A petition has been launched against proposals to cut support for Kingsclere Community Library.
The future of the library was plunged into doubt three weeks ago after Hampshire County Council revealed plans to cut support for the venue in an effort to save £1.76m.
This would mean losing the frequent supply of books, the library’s self-service terminal, public computer and free WiFi, as well as two hours’ support per week by an employee from Tadley Library.
The library, on George Street, would have to become independent and operate outside Hampshire’s library system – or face closure.
In an effort to retain the council’s support, library committee member Sarah Davis created the petition last week and it has already received more than 350 signatures.
Mrs Davis said the library was a vital community asset and identified three main reasons for it to keep the council’s support.
She said: “First is our geographical situation – travel to Tadley is hopeless.
“There’s only one bus twice a week, while Basingstoke is a longer journey and a longer walk.
“It’ll also affect children – it’s very short-sighted of them because encouraging children to read is important.
“They come out of the library with armfuls of books every time they visit.
“There’s also the community aspect of our library.
“It’s a very good community place for people to come and chat, and a lot of friendships have been forged.
“We have members like Maisie Phoenix, who’s 101, and she says the library for her is an absolute lifeline.”
Kingsclere Library volunteer Madeleine Grant-Jones has been using the library since moving to the area five years ago and said it was an invaluable resource for her children.
“It may not seem much, but I collect and return a bag for life of books each time I visit,” she said.
“My children are known to the volunteers and benefit from knowing people of different age ranges, something otherwise only available at church for us.
“They learn social skills and how to speak to adults who aren’t family or family friends.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and in this age more than ever I believe this to be true.”
Kingsclere Community Library is one of four libraries – classified as tier four libraries – potentially losing its support, saving the council £49,000.
A consultation period is now open until March 18, with the local authority stressing no decisions will be made until all consultation responses have been fully analysed.
A final decision on the proposals is expected to be made in the summer, with any approved changes implemented in the autumn.
To view the petition, visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/do-not-withdraw-funding-for-kingsclere-community-library
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