Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Keeping Our Library Open
Cuts proposed by Conservative Hampshire County Council include reducing the opening hours of many libraries.
For Hedge End this would mean our library would be closed all day Wednesday (it currently opens during the morning). The Town Council discussed these proposals at its October meeting and agreed to work with the County, not just to maintain the existing opening hours, but to extend them, if necessary with the use of volunteers, so that the library is easier to access for people who work.
One of the things I like about the Hampshire library service is that you can go online to browse the catalogue. If you find that the book you are looking for is currently in Basingstoke, for instance, you can request it be sent to Hedge End. You get an email when it arrives and you can pop into the library at your convenience to pick it up (after paying a few pence for the additional service).
It's a simple but effective way of using modern technology to enhance a public service which dates back to Victorian times. Expectations have moved on since 1850 when the Public Libraries Act was passed. Private sector shops used to close for a day or half-day each week, but in 2010 shops need to be open at least six days a week or they risk losing business. The same holds true for libraries.
The library in nearby Chandler's Ford is not being cut because it has better lending figures than Hedge End despite being comparable in terms of population. Closing the Hedge End library on a Wednesday is unlikely to help increase the number of books lent, but the message to Hedge End people is clear. Use it or risk losing it.
You can comment on the County's proposals on their web site.
"If you have a garden and a library, you will want for nothing." (Cicero, 46BC)