Council funding boost for library that campaigners feared would soon close

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CAMPAIGNERS who have fought to save a library from closure have been boosted by news Hampshire County Council (HCC) is to invest in the facility.

There have been fears in recent years Emsworth Library could close or move to smaller premises, as county bosses save money, with campaigners saying it would be a big blow to the town centre and residents.

But now HCC has delivered good news and indicated the library is no longer on borrowed time.

Councillor Andrew Gibson, the council’s executive member for culture, recreation and countryside, said: ‘As part of our strategic investment to modernise our libraries, we are currently installing self-service technology to all branches, so that customers can easily borrow and renew books and access other resources.

‘Emsworth Library will be briefly closed for the self-service kiosks to be installed, with customers advised in advance of the closure dates.’

Cllr Gibson added that there were ‘no plans at present’ to operate Emsworth Library without paid staff.

Bob Smyth, from the Friends of Emsworth Library, said: ‘This is tremendous news.

‘Usage may have fallen slightly in the past year, but new residents will soon be arriving as building has started in the Emsworth-Havant green gap.’

Longer-term, there has been talk of the library moving if suitable lower-cost premises can be found.

Mr Smyth’s point about a fall in use comes after a Hampshire-wide survey about the number of books being borrowed from libraries, as reported in The News.

A Freedom of Information Act request by Highbury College’s journalism course to Hampshire County Council revealed more than 300,000 fewer books were borrowed from libraries across the area in the past two years.