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Save not Slay them - Hampshire Authors Protest Against Library Cuts

Protest against cuts to Hampshire LibrariesCrime author, Pauline Rowson is one of over forty authors who are lending their support to the campaign to stop Hampshire County Council from closing several libraries and cutting the hours of many others in the county.  Pauline Rowson joined authors across the county on Monday 13 January on the steps of the council offices in Winchester to hand over an open letter of protest to Councillor Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage at Hampshire County Council.

The local authority announced on 9th January that it was consulting on shutting the facilities in a bid to save £1.76m from its libraries budget. Remaining libraries could also see their opening hours slashed under the scheme and four community-run venues could shut if they don’t find a new funding model.

A letter organised by writer James McConnachie and signed by forty Hampshire-based authors warns the options being proposed would be "disastrous" for local communities. A Twitter account for the authors, Hampshire Authors for Libraries, has also been set up @HantsAuthors.

Pauline Rowson being interviewed by ITV MeridianPauline Rowson says, 'Libraries change lives, they are the heartbeat of our communities and have already suffered appallingly nationally from cuts, with many closing and the loss of valuable librarian positions.  Many of those that have already been turned into volunteer run libraries are closing, they do not have the expertise or resources to succeed.

Over the last ten years central government has consistently failed in its legal duty to adequately fund libraries, causing many to struggle and providing an excuse to local councils to say they are not working. Once a library in a community is closed it is gone forever. 

Pauline Rowson joins fellow authors to protest at proposed library closuresLibraries do not discriminate, they are freely available to all and unite all generations.  They make a huge difference to lives and I am an example of that.  I come from a household where there weren't any books and my parents didn't read.  If it hadn't been for the opening of a small local library in my home town of Portsmouth, giving me access to free books, I would never have discovered the joy of reading and gone on to have a successful business career and ultimately become a crime author.'

The consultation is open until 18 March and can be completed on line or at a Hampshire library.    

Open letter - Hampshire Authors get behind protest over Library Cuts

We are writing to contest Hampshire County Council’s shameful decision to cut £1.76m from the county’s libraries budget. The two options in the public ‘consultation’, launched on Thursday, are to close ten or more libraries in Hampshire, or to drastically cut the hours of all of them. Both proposals will be disastrous for Hampshire’s communities. We reject them.

We are authors who live, work or were brought up in Hampshire. Libraries are where we learned about books, and where we learned to love them – they are where everyone who reads learns to love books. They are the magical open door at the back of the wardrobe, a door that is open to every child, from every background – and every adult too.  

Now that 1 in 8 schools do not have a library at all, public libraries are all the more vital. And libraries are about far more than books and literacy. They are havens, refuges and gateways, the vibrant hearts of the towns and villages they serve. A library is a place where a community comes together, from toddlers enjoying rhyme time to older visitors finding a place to browse and meet friends – and of course people simply wanting to borrow a good book, for free. 

An open library is proof that we value community and culture. A closed library is a sign of a society – and a county council – that is turning its back on both.  

We urge Hampshire County Council to reverse this shameful decision.

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