Authors speak up over under-threat library bus service

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TWO popular authors say they share the concerns of parents and nursery staff over the possibility of the Portsmouth library bus service closing.

As previously reported in The News, the future of the city’s mobile library service is currently uncertain as maintenance costs start to increase.

Local authors have voiced their concerns about the impact of the potential closure. Ali Sparkes, author of the Unleashed series, thinks Portsmouth City Council is right to maintain public libraries but sees the bus service as a vital addition.

She said: ‘It is good that Portsmouth City Council is keeping public libraries open when other areas are closing them.

‘But, it is unfortunate that the mobile services are suffering from cuts because you are constantly weighing up the costs and the benefits.

‘It is a real shame though because the services are needed by people in the community.

‘I think the council needs to stop thinking about the costs and get in someone creative who can make the service more than just a mobile bus.

‘They need someone bold and brave to make a suggestion that will include the bus in reading activities that will make it even more worthwhile.’

Pauline Rowson, author of a children’s series featuring DI Andy Horton, thinks the importance of other library services will increase if the bus is to be cut.

She said: ‘Libraries are facing cuts like many other services in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.

‘If the visiting library bus service is to be cut then this stresses even more the importance of keeping the network of branch libraries across the city open and accessible.

‘It also highlights the need to keep and build up school libraries.

‘They are especially important for children whose parents would not normally take them to a local public library.’

Portsmouth City Council is considering whether or not to replace the bus. To do so could cost up to £80,000.

Cllr Lee Hunt, cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: ‘Most people are a short walk from their local library and we are keeping all local branches open, unlike many councils which are closing libraries.

‘We are maintaining a great local library service in the face of difficult financial circumstances, delivering excellent value for money.’