Hampshire’s Library Service is currently in serious crisis.
- The books budget has cut by more than £500,000 over the last 2 years. Our libraries now have 20% fewer books than they did 5 years ago.
- 27 out of 60 professional librarian positions are in the process of being cut across the county.
- Hampshire’s library service now spends less than 6% of its funding on books – the lowest level of book purchasing of any county in England.
An urgent scrutiny meeting to review the operation of the library service has been delayed by the Conservative County Council administration for over a year.
In response to the crisis, the librarians organised a ‘read out’ by the Butter Cross to support their opposition to the current round of cuts.
Unfortunately I couldn’t be there due to a previously arranged meeting in London.
However, to try and compensate, I arranged with Mark Oaten and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson, that we would join the ‘read out‘ in spirit by reading books at the same time as people backing Hampshire’s librarians were supporting them in London.
You can see the results above.
If you’d like to find out more or back the librarians, there are three things that you can do:
- Sign the petition to the Prime Minister asking for the decision to cut the number of staff by nearly half at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Defend-libraries/.
- Write to David Lammy MP, Minister of State for the Arts, Department of Culture Media and Sport, Department for Culture Media & Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH. Your letter should refer specifically to the failure of Hampshire County Council to provide a public library service as required of them under the Act of 1964. The letter should call upon Mr Lammy to obtain such information as is necessary to perform his duty of supervision of the library service and act accordingly.
- Find out more about the situation of our libraries, by visiting http://www.goodlibraryguide.com and searching for ‘Hampshire’.