A LIBRARY is set to move out of a busy shopping centre and mobile services could be axed as an authority looks to save £1.7m.
Hampshire County Council has launched a consultation on sweeping changes to the library service.
The proposals include moving Havant library out of the Meridian Centre.
Emsworth library, currently in St Peter’s Square, is also set to move to a new location.
Officials said there was no information yet on where the new libraries would be located, but a report states the council is looking to ‘find more suitable, affordable accommodation to share with partners in the heart of these communities’.
Mobile libraries across the county – including Denmead, Clanfield, Finchdean, Eastoke, Whiteley, Wickham and Rowlands Castle – would no longer run under the plan.
A report states they are used by a small number of people, with an average of 14 people using the Denmead stop every week.
Meanwhile, the busiest libraries – including Fareham, Gosport, Waterlooville and Petersfield – could be upgraded to ‘Discovery Centres’.
The council has a £2m Book Fund every year to buy new releases, but under the plan £500,000 would be diverted from this fund every year for the next four years.
This money would be invested in new technology and digital systems.
From 2020, the Book Fund would be permanently reduced to £1.5m-a-year.
Tim Dawes, who runs Havant Literary Festival, said: ‘Unfortunately there are very few books left because libraries have turned pseudo-commercial. It’s a great shame.’
Stephanie Elsy, chairwoman of the Emsworth Forum, said: ‘It’s really important for people in Emsworth and the surrounding areas to have a library.’
County-wide, 74 library staff – mostly part-time – have taken voluntary redundancy.
Councillor Andrew Gibson, who oversees libraries, said: ‘It is clear that what we need is a sharp focus for this important service to ensure it is properly positioned to meet the evolving needs of the community it serves.’
To see the strategy and comment visit hants.gov.uk/library.