A PUBLIC consultation over the future of Hampshire libraries is to be launched next month.

County bosses have confirmed that details over the future of libraries across the county will be released on January 9 when a ten-week consultation will be launched.

It comes after last month county councillor Peter Chegwyn  claimed that 37 of the 52 libraries in Hampshire could face axe.

At the time the county council said  it “would not be appropriate to speculate”.

But now the authority has said that it is not and never has been considering closing 37 libraries. 

Further details of  what has been called as an emerging vision for Hampshire libraries to 2025 will be revealed next month.

As previously reported, the proposals come as the authority aims to save £1.75m from the library sector by 2021 in a move that would put 58 jobs at risk.

Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage, said this represents 16% of the overall budget for the service but still means that a budget of around £10 million would remain.

He added: “The consultation, which we will be publicising to Hampshire residents and stakeholders, will reveal the emerging vision for Hampshire Libraries to 2025 which has been discussed with a number of different professional bodies. This will be used alongside implementing efficiency measures, and a drive to maximise income through events and room hire. We will also be seeking residents’ and library staff views on different ways of providing library services, with options including reductions in opening hours, and the possibility of a small number of library closures or relocations. I want to be clear that we’re absolutely committed to ensuring that Hampshire residents have access to high quality library services. Hampshire County Council is not and never has been considering closing 37 of our libraries, and regrets that such potentially alarming information has been put into the public domain as it is likely to unnecessarily worry library customers”.

Cllr Woodward is now urging residents to have their say.

The consultation form will be available online and in libraries from midday on January 9.