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Library campaign goes citywide PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 06 January 2008 10:16
 library exteriorFriends of Cobbett Road Library are taking their campaign against cuts to library hours citywide. Quick download: Friends’ poster (Word).

The Conservative council’s budget proposals include a 9.5-hour cut in opening times at Cobbett Road, as well as at libraries in Burgess Road, Woolston, Thornhill and Weston, to save Ł65,000. At Cobbett Road this equates to a cut in opening times of around a third.
save our library
Flashback: protests to keep Cobbett open in February

The proposals come at a time when the government wants to boost the popularity of reading, and is calling on parents to spend 10 minutes a day reading to their children. 2008 has been declared the National Year of Reading.

The Southampton library campaign has already been mentioned in the Independent and the Daily Mail as well as in the Daily Echo. The campaign earlier in the year was also mentioned in Private Eye.
Cllr Hannides
Cllr Hannides

Now the Friends are urging residents to print out and display their poster, to email it to friends, and to write to council’s Libraries Manager David Baldwin and the Conservative’s Culture & Leisure spokesman Cllr John Hannides.

A petition was handed to Cllr Hannides at Cobbett Road Library in December  and Bitterne Park Tory councillors Peter Baillie and Phil Williams have said they are backing Cobbett library users and urging Cllr Hannides to "find a solution," according to the Daily Echo .

When the proposals were first published, Cllr Hannides said: "We are committed to providing a library service fit for the 21st century. Our current provision was largely designed over 80 years ago and we need to engage with our customers to identify how we can best improve this vital service. Pressure has been building in recent years to close the Cobbett Road Library and the new Conservative administration has resisted this. Rationalisation of opening hours is a reflection of the very tight budgetary constraints across the board and we took the view that we would prefer to sustain the Library provision in the City, albeit with slightly reduced hours, rather than be compelled to seek closures." He has suggested that volunteers could help staff Cobbett Road Library.
Cllr Phil Williams
Cllr Phil Williams

BBC presenter Chris Packham, who regularly visited Cobbett Road Library as a child, recently spoke out about the idea of reducing library hours: “Reducing the already restricted amount of time that community libraries are open is a short sighted and potentially destructive course of action,” he said. “These places provide an essential and invaluable source of knowledge, information and entertainment, not to mention a community focus which actively promotes effective communication and a sense of value in that community. For many older people they are the only place where internet access is freely available. There should be an expansion of facilities and opening times, not a downsizing. What sort of message does this sort of proposal send out at a time when the consensus is that such facilities require investment? I sincerely hope this can be immediately addressed and re-appraised.”

The Friends next meet at Cobbett Road Library on January 19 at 10am. The budget decision is expected to be made on February 20.

David Baldwin, Libraries Manager, Civic Centre, Southampton City Council, Southampton, SO14 7LY, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cllr John Hannides, Members Room, Civic Centre, Southampton City Council, Southampton, SO14 7LY or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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