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  1. ITV Report

Authors join fight against plans to close 10 Hampshire libraries

A group of authors have joined the fight against plans to close 10 libraries in Hampshire, saying the proposals would be disastrous for local communities and would affect children's learning.

The County Council must make savings of £80 million by April 2021, due to Government cuts.

Under the proposals, it is hoping to save £1.76 million of that through library closures and reducing opening hours of the 38 which would remain open.

I come from a household where there were no books. My parents didn't read. They couldn't afford to buy books and it was only through a small local library, like Hampshire County Council are considering closing, that I discovered the joy of reading and books. Libraries change lives. They make a huge difference to people."

– Pauline Rowson, Crime & thriller writer

The authors met with Councillor Sean Woodward on Monday to voice their opposition.

Many say they owe their career to local libraries, with reading firing their imagination.

The authors displayed copies of their work outside the council offices in Winchester and handed over a letter signed by more than 70 authors who live, work or were brought up in the county.

My education was conducted not in school but in the local library. Woolston Library, Thursday evening, late opening, going to the children's section and opening up worlds. I was fascinated in whales and dinosaurs. They came alive in that cold building but it was just filled with this exciting explosive ideas and I desperately want that for the next generation."

– Philip Hoare, Author

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Take away libraries from children, especially children in deprived areas, then you deprive children of the chance of writing and you deprive all people of having the chance of having a community centre, a place to access information, books. You can't turn your back on library services without turning your back on culture and community."

– James McConnachie, Author

A 10-week public consultation is underway, with local residents being urged to give their views, before a decision is made in the summer.

Libraries are important and Hampshire has a lot of libraries and even if all 10 were to close we would have 38 libraries in Hampshire which is many more than most counties have. We have a fantastic library service now and whatever the future brings our absolute priority is that we will have a fantastic library service that meets all statutory requirements and then some."

– Cllr Sean Woodward, Hampshire County Council