AN INTERNATIONAL best-selling author has described Hampshire County Council's plans to close ten libraries as 'shameful'.

Neil Gaiman has written a joint letter alongside 80 authors who have ties with the county to ask the authority to reconsider.

it comes after last week, the Gazette launched its 'Save Our Libraries' campaign to lobby against the closure of South Ham, Chineham and Odiahm libraries. 

Gaiman, the author of Coraline and American Gods, who grew up in Hampshire and has a road named after him in Portsmouth.

He has been joined by Philip Hoare, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ali Sparkes and Claire Fuller who wrote to the council last week to “reverse this shameful decision”.

The writers described the two options in the public consultation as disastrous for Hampshire’s communities: “An open library is proof that we value community and culture. A closed library is a sign of a society – and a county council – that is turning its back on both.”

“Now that one in eight schools does not have a library at all, public libraries are all the more vital. And libraries are about far more than books and literacy. They are havens, refuges and gateways, the vibrant hearts of the towns and villages they serve,” the letter reads.

Andover Advertiser:

Within the letter, the authors write: “We are authors who live, work or were brought up in Hampshire. Libraries are where we learned about books, and where we learned to love them – they are where everyone who reads learns to love books. They are the magical open door at the back of the wardrobe, a door that is open to every child, from every background – and every adult too.

“Now that one in eight schools do not have a library at all, public libraries are all the more vital. And libraries are about far more than books and literacy. They are havens, refuges and gateways, the vibrant hearts of the towns and villages they serve. A library is a place where a community comes together, from toddlers enjoying rhyme time to older visitors finding a place to browse and meet friends – and of course people simply wanting to borrow a good book, for free.

“An open library is proof that we value community and culture. A closed library is a sign of a society – and a county council – that is turning its back on both."

Documents released as part of the ten-week public consultation listed the libraries at risk of closure, including Blackfield and Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Fair Oak Library in Fair Oak, Chineham and South Ham libraries in Basingstoke, Elson library in Gosport, Emsworth library in Havant, Horndean in East Hampshire, Lee-on-the-Solent library in Gosport and Odiham library in Hart.

Andover Advertiser: Neil Gaiman, the author of Coraline, grew up in HampshireNeil Gaiman, the author of Coraline, grew up in Hampshire

Andover Advertiser: Cllr Sean Woodward will be making the final decisionCllr Sean Woodward will be making the final decision

Andover Advertiser: The Gazette has launched a campaign to save three libraries from closureThe Gazette has launched a campaign to save three libraries from closureAdditionally, Kingsclere Community Library, Lowford Community Library, Milford-on-Sea Community Library and North Baddesley Community Library may be turned into independent community-managed libraries which means they will no longer be supported by the county council and will have to be run entirely by volunteers.

Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage at the county council said the authority is "absolutely committed to providing a high-quality library service".

The consultation will close on March 18 and the authority stressed that no decision will be made until all consultation responses have been fully analysed.

The list of authors in full:

Pete Adams,
Nazneen Ahmed,
Geoff Allnutt,
Kirsty Applebaum,
William Atkins,
Julie Ballard,
Sam Baker,
Julie Ballard,
Joanna Barnard,
Quentin Bates,
Kathryn Bevis,
Susmita Bhattacharya,
Alys Blakeway,
Jonathan Buckley,
Carole Burns,
Emma Clery,
Lucy Coats,
Amanda Craig,
Ben Culleton,
Alison Cybe,
James Desborough,
Amber Dodd,
Mark Eyles,
Lucy Flannery,
Jo Foster,
Tiffany Francis-Baker,
Claire Fuller,
Neil Gaiman,
Jules Garvey-Welch,
Roger Goldsmith,
Claire Gradidge,
Caroline Green,
Neil Gregor,
Jon Courtenay Grimwood,
Alison Habens,
James Hall,
Jude Hayland,
Vanessa Harbour,
John Harding,
Jude Hayland,
Abbie Headon,
Judith Heneghan,
Jane Hill,
Philip Hoare,
Cate Holness,
Jon Hotten,
Alice Hunt,
Lucy Jones,
Marina De Joslin,
Reem Khan,
Judith Kinghorn,
Christine Lord,
Helen Matthews,
James McConnachie,
Ray Monk,
Louise Morrish,
Richard Newton,
David Nicholls,
Simon Nicholson,
Beth O’Leary,
Russell Olson,
David Owen,
Prof David Owen,
Caroline Owen-Wintersgill,
Chris Packham,
Conor Patrick,
Keith A. Pearson,
Mark A. Pritchard,
Isabel Rogers,
Pauline Rowson,
Michael Shipster,
Jackie Shipster,
Rebecca Smith,
P.D. Smith,
Ali Sparkes,
William Sutton,
Julie Sykes,
Tom Sykes.
M. E. Vaughan,
Judy Waite,
Damon Wakes