Campaign to save 'Maisy Mouse' mobile library

THE FIGHT is on to save a mobile library service which users say is vital for their community.

The Family Library Link bus, which has a 'Maisy Mouse' picture on the side, visits play and toddler groups across Leigh Park and Havant but looks set to be cut as Hampshire County Council bids to save 600,000 a year from the library service budget.

The Family Library Link was founded in 1983 to develop a love of books in families who may not otherwise have visited libraries.

Under the county's proposals it is scheduled to be taken out of service in July - but the Liberal Democrat councillors in Havant want to save it.

Councillor Ann Buckley, who also represents Leigh Park on the County Council, said: 'I am appalled that Hampshire proposes to cut this service.

'It has been running for more than 27 years and has introduced thousands of children in the Leigh Park area to books and a love of reading.

'Books give children such a good start in life, so it is wrong to take away this excellent service which is much appreciated locally.

'There was so much praise for the service when the new Maisy Mouse bus was launched six years ago. I am campaigning hard to keep this service.' The mobile library bus is crammed with 2,000 books with the aim of reaching 750 children a month.

But it costs Hampshire County Council 43,000 a year to run. Council libraries boss, Councillor Margaret Snaith-Tempia, said: 'The Family Library Link is a branch library on wheels taking services which can be found at the local branch library, to children and parents in the community. All the services delivered can be found at the branch libraries which is why we're proposing, in these difficult economic times, to cut the service and to use our Outreach team to encourage parents and their children to use their local library.

'All the play and toddler groups are close to Havant or Leigh Park libraries.

'It costs 43,000 a year to run plus the cost of book stock. That's about the same as two very small static libraries. All the groups it visits are close to good libraries which is why we are encouraging people to use these instead.'

Cllr Buckley and her colleagues will be campaigning outside Leigh Park library on Saturday. To comment on the proposals email before Monday February 14.