ONE of Portsmouth’s most popular new arrivals has celebrated its first birthday.
Southsea Library in Palmerston Road has enjoyed a successful 12 months after the council decided to move it from Elm Grove.
Yesterday its first anniversary was celebrated by hundreds of families with cake, balloons, games and face painting.
The councillors behind Portsmouth’s newest library say it has been a resounding success, having welcomed over 7,500 new library members, seen more than 270,000 people pass through its doors and issued over 100,000 items since it opened.
And, despite its whopping £1.5m price tag and £100,000 annual rent, many families agree with them.
Mum-of-two Sophie Polics, 28, of Wisborough Road, Southsea, took her four-year-old daughter Viktoria and 10-month-old son Sebastian to enjoy the birthday activities.
‘It was great,’ she said. ‘The children enjoyed the singing and then they all had their faces painted.
‘The library was full of children watching the balloon modelling and playing games.
‘My two love going there and we visit pretty much every week.
‘We came on the opening day and it always has activities and promotions and everyone there is very friendly.
‘It’s a clean and colourful place with an excellent selection of books.’
Yesterday, council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson kicked off events by cutting a birthday cake, then youngsters were treated to Rhyme Time featuring Peter Rabbit, followed by Suzy the face painter and Pierre the clown, as well as cupcake decorating and a birthday card making competition.
Conservative culture spokesman Lee Mason said although his party had initially thought the library was far too expensive, it now had their support.
‘I still have concerns because we don’t own the land and the rent is very expensive,’ he said. ‘But it is a great library and it is good to see so many people using it.’
Culture spokesman for the Labour group Cllr David Horne added that he was worried other parts of the city could lose out because of the ongoing cost of running the library.
‘It’s a fantastic facility,’ he said. ‘But I just hope it doesn’t become a millstone around the city’s neck. We want to see a library like it in Paulsgrove.’