BOOK lovers have launched a campaign to save one of ten Hampshire libraries which are facing the axe.

The number of lending branches could drop from 48 to 38 as part of a massive cost-cutting drive by the county council, which says it must make savings of £80m by 2021.

Now residents have launched an online petition in a bid to save Blackfield library.

The petition says: "Blackfield's library is the last remaining community building in the area, and is a vital resource in a community where so many children and older people live.

"It supports reading and study, provides a quiet place to work, as well as offering computer access to those who may not otherwise have it.

"If this library were to close, it would be lost forever, and anyone wanting to use the library would have to pay to travel to Hythe instead. It is worth far more to local residents open than closing it would ever save."

Steve Squibbs is among the people who have signed the petition.

He said: "As a former employee of the library service who occasionally worked at Blackfield Library I know just how valuable it is to those who use it.

"Small communities like Blackfield need investment from the council to aid cohesion and wellbeing, access to information and learning, a sense of place - not more cuts which will hit the most vulnerable members of our society hardest."

Fran Terry added: Libraries are a sign of a civilised society.

"The lending of books and other services provided by the library are not a luxury they are a necessity for community cohesion, wellbeing, and learning. If the library goes it will cost the council and NHS a lot more in the long run."

A final decision on the proposal is expected to be made in the summer.

Cllr Sean Woodward, the county council’s executive member for recreation and heritage, said: "We are having to look at all services to find savings to help bridge the current funding gap.

"We are seeking views on different ways of providing library services.

"Options include reducing the opening hours of all libraries by 25%; or closing up to ten libraries and reducing opening hours of all the remaining libraries by an average of 15%."

To take part in the public consultation visit