SIR – Through your newspaper, many readers will now be aware that Hampshire County Council has decided to withdraw its support from Milford community library.

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Having had quite a few discussions with Hampshire Library Service over the last few years through our community libraries group, we well understand the reasons for this; nonetheless we are saddened by the decision, as we have enjoyed being a Hampshire public library.

We became a community library just over five years ago after a previous round of budget cuts and our library has been run on a day-to-day basis by a team of approximately 40 volunteers ever since. They have turned out come rain or shine, raised funds for our rent and other expenses, and dispensed TLC along with the books.

We have been able to open five days a week for the benefit of our village and we are hugely grateful to them.

During this period Hampshire Library Service has continued to supply and rotate a good and varied stock of books, audio tapes, etc. We have had a public service computer and wifi, as well as weekly visits from a Hampshire Library staff member; and we’ve developed good working relationships with our extremely helpful colleagues from New Milton and Lymington, our ‘buddy’ libraries.

Many, many thanks to them for their assistance, advice, troubleshooting and smiling faces. We shall miss them!

So what next? This is the end of an era for public library services in Milford, but the start of a new one. After all, there has been a library in Milford for over 60 years and it is the intention of our library committee to ensure that we still have one, albeit an independent entity.

We had just begun an expansion in January 2020 to provide a jigsaw library and other community activities, as well as our existing reading group, story time and quiz afternoons.

Sadly all this was all halted by coronavirus, though we did join forces with Milford Mutual Aid, the Village Voice and David Long to produce The Good Newsletter every Friday. Unbelievably, we’re working on issue 22 now. If you’d like a look just sign up at our email address below.

Our current plan is to re-open Milford library on Tuesday 1st September for people to collect a bag of ‘ready reads’ or the books they have ordered online from Hampshire until further notice. We shall phone readers to say that books are ready for collection at a particular time and are looking forward to seeing our customers once more.

Initially our opening hours will be Monday and Tuesday 2.30pm-4pm; closed Wednesday; Thursday and Friday 10am-11.30am. Sadly, because our library is in the multi-use village hall with 16 other users, we are not yet able to offer individual browsing, but we are working with the MVA trustees of the mall to achieve this at some point in the future.

If there is anyone out there who would like to volunteer with us, please get in touch by sending an email to mosclibrary@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you. We all enjoy serving our community and hope many more people will join us to have fun in the future.

Jill Neill, Milford community library committee

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