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Volunteers announce plans to reopen Lyndhurst library with just children's books

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A LIBRARY run by volunteers will offer only children’s books when it opens in Lyndhurst in September after the branch was shut by funding cuts nearly two years ago.

As reported in the A&T, the village centre facility was closed by Hampshire County Council in 2020 to help make £1.76m of savings in the library service.

Lyndhurst’s new library will be run by volunteers. It was due to reopen in the community centre shortly after the council-funded service ended, but has been hit by building delays.

The council-run library was closed in 2020 due to cuts
The council-run library was closed in 2020 due to cuts

Rob Dewing, chair of trustees at Lyndhurst Community Centre, explained: “The reason the county council closed the full library was lack of usage by the community, particularly for adult books.

“This would still be an issue if we reopened it with volunteers running it.

“The children’s library, on the other hand, was relatively well used, within the hours immediately after the end of the school day, and a number of our volunteers are keen to staff it for that relatively shorter part of the day.

“Hence we believe a part-time children’s library will prove to a popular resource which we can sustain.

“We put this proposition to the county council who, having assessed it, were happy to hand over the stock to us and provided a transition grant.”

Cllr Hilary Brand, district councillor for Lyndhurst, said the news of a children’s library opening was “wonderful”.

But she added: “It is a real shame, however, that adults in our community will not have the same opportunity locally, and will miss access to the other support that the library provided like the computers that were available, support for completing and understanding forms etc, along with the general wellbeing that meeting other people and reading brings.

“We have not just lost a community asset but a health asset as well.”

Among the fundraising efforts was a recent auction of promises organised by local businessman Tony Comfort, which raised £10,000.

More than 100 people attended, with items up for grabs including a test drive in a Ferrari, tickets for Ed Sheeran, and a week in an apartment in Lanzarote.

Mr Dewing said: “As a result of fundraising successes the centre has been able to resume work on the long-planned children’s library, successor to the closed Hampshire County Council library, which is now scheduled to open with the new school term at the start of September.

“Originally planned to open in 2020, the library was delayed by the discovery of sound-insulation problems which affected the operation of the adjacent meeting room and parish office.

“Further building work is now in hand to add more sound-insulation and the centre can then fit out the library in a development which has also been funded by an equipment grant from Hampshire County Council and support from Lyndhurst Parish Council.”

He added: “We really do owe a big debt of gratitude to Tony and all who turned out to take part in the auction, it’s meant a transformation for the state of our finances.”

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