D-Day comes for future of county’s library service

Leigh Park library is among those that could one day be managed by the community
Leigh Park library is among those that could one day be managed by the community
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MAJOR changes for the county’s library service are set to be agreed today.

Councillor Andrew Gibson, who heads libraries across Fareham, Gosport, Havant, East Hampshire and Winchester districts, will consider proposals aimed at cutting £1.7m from the budget.

One of the main savings is set to be ending the mobile library service, saving £360,000.

Mobile libraries currently visit villages such as Denmead and Wickham.

Cutting staff numbers has already saved £300,000, while ending spending on CDs and DVDs will save a further £150,000.

The review follows an 11-week consultation, which saw 9,500 responses.

A report says just over three quarters of users of the mobile library service - 364 people in total responding to the consultation - were against the cessation of the service.

A report says: ‘It is proposed to offer the Home Library Service to mobile library customers who are unable to access their nearest static library.

‘It is hoped that some mobile library customers may be able to help other residents that do not have their own

transport through the Library Service’s Good Neighbour Scheme.

‘The free loan of an eReader is not being pursued as more than half of mobile library customers said that this was not suitable for them.’

The changes will also mean self-service stations are set to be installed in all 53 libraries in the county.

A report says the ‘public were not in favour’ of reducing the book fund by £500,000 from 2020, as well as transfering smaller libraries, such as Horndean, Leigh Park and Lee-on-the-Solent, into community management.

But a report says ‘they may need to be explored’, but transferring libraries would only come after another round of consultation.

The strategy proposes using £500,000 of the £2 million book fund for four years to invest in library buildings and in new technology to reduce costs.

Fareham library is set to be refurbished as part of the strategy.

Feasibility work will be carried out to relocate Havant and Emsworth libraries to new locations.

There is also a plan to develop ‘open libraries’ where libraries are open for longer hours with less staff manning the counters.