Residents urged to save library

A CAMPAIGNER has urged residents to come forward to help save a small library. Jackmans library in Letchworth GC is under threat as part of a series of proposed changes to libraries across the county. Last week councillors agreed to start a consultation p

A CAMPAIGNER has urged residents to come forward to help save a small library.

Jackmans library in Letchworth GC is under threat as part of a series of proposed changes to libraries across the county.

Last week councillors agreed to start a consultation period into the proposals, which as well as longer opening hours and revamped buildings, suggest the closing of four libraries, including Jackmans.

Richard Harman, chairman of the Jackmans Improvement Group, said that residents must now make their views known.

"People should speak up and come forward if they want to save their library," he said.

Mr Harman said that the library is popular with children and elderly people on the estate.

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He said: "It's important that it remains there as part of the community service.

"Everyone's used to it being there and it does provide a good service.

"A lot of the elderly people have spoken to me about it and said something's got to be done, everything on the estate is going."

Hertfordshire County Council, which is behind the plans to close the library, says it is underused, and "does not offer the full range of services that attract people to larger libraries".

But Mr Harman said that reduced opening hours was behind the lack of visitors to Jackmans library.

He said: "Not so many people go there because it's only open at certain times."

If Jackmans library is closed, HCC plans to refurbish the counter and enquiry desk at Letchworth's main library, and to offer additional opening hours to compensate.

But Mr Harman said that the main library is not as easy to get to and is difficult to park outside, whereas Jackmans library has its own car park.

In a statement, HCC said: "The proposals are part of a major investment programme designed to improve library opening hours, and the library buildings network so that the service can attract more visitors, provide them with more of what they want and meet current public library standards.

"The plans are based on feedback from recent surveys of library visitors, assessment of the existing buildings, a number of which are old and unfit for the purpose, and a careful analysis of patterns of use.

"In particular, a gradual decline in visitor numbers has been identified in recent years - a trend which these proposals are seeking to reverse."

The public consultation will start at the end of March and run until May.