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February brought storms to our doors in more ways than one. In January Hampshire County Council (HCC) had unleashed its Hampshire Libraries Consultancy Document, in both online and paper format, and urged all Hampshire residents to have their say on the proposed changes to Hampshire’s Library Service. By February storm clouds were gathering, both literally and metaphorically, as it became clear that a fight for the survival of some libraries that faced closure was now essential. One difficulty for all was that all forms and petitions etc had to be lodged with HCC by the closing date of 18 March. Their decision to be announced in June.

Lowford Community Library alerted its users and asked for their help in launching a protest against any cuts to the Library’s services. ‘Save Our Services’ posters and flyers were distributed around the area, shops and houses put them in their windows. People flocked to sign the Petition that was available in the Library and various helpful outlets. ‘Wave 105’ radio was contacted and the Lowford Community Library fight became a news item. Once the importance of completing Hampshire’s Consultancy Document was understood many promised to complete it – determined to have their say.

On 10 February approximately 100 people turned up, many bringing their dogs, at the requested hour of 10am to demonstrate and protest against possible cuts in Services at Lowford Community Library. A group photo was taken and well to the front were some young users from three local nurseries – Noah’s Ark, Buttercups and Woodlands. The photo was sent as requested to ‘Wave 105’ for display on their website, the Echo for use as a news item and to a local ‘blogger and author’ Rosie Travers ( Lowford volunteers would like to express their thanks to Karen and Steve Foulkes for taking the photo and giving their permission for it to be used wherever it was needed.

Last but by no means least a huge THANK YOU to all those who gave of their time and support in our efforts keep what we have – a welcoming and friendly community library.

As volunteers we are proud to have helped Lowford Community Library grow and establish strong links with the surrounding area and to have won a reputation of being friendly and open to suggestions as to how the Library might better serve the community as a whole. Currently there is a Suggestion Box on display along with the Petition Form and other Consultation information. Please do use the box for any suggestions you may have – perhaps there is a particular activity or group that you would like to have made available.

That we are now firmly established can be shown by the continuing increase in both our adult and child service users and that several newly trained volunteers have joined our ranks. Our Writing Group has now reached its maximum number. Knit and Natter is going from strength to strength and at the beginning of the year Annette Foulds, from the Park Gate British Legion, presented all the members with a special limited edition pin in recognition of their continued support for the Legions' Poppy Appeal. Currently the group is knitting coverings and pouches for orphaned Australian wildlife. Our donated book section is also thriving and all the money collected last year has been donated to a local charity helping young disabled with reading problems. The establishing of a Book Group is under discussion and progress is being made with the start of ‘Story Time’ for our very young users.

Two events for children are being staged this year – one is currently being run over the Spring Half Term – a ‘Wild Life Hunt’ with prizes for all who successfully find the 12 endangered species lurking in the Library.

July brings the Summer Reading Challenge once more to our doors. This year the ‘Silly Squad’ will be seeking out and hoping for a celebration of fun, happiness and laughter - all to be found within the covers of our books. We will also be having a Poster Competition showing the ‘Silly Squad’ being wonderfully silly and having lots of fun. The posters will all be displayed either in the Library or upstairs in the Cafe where it is hoped to have a grand prize giving ceremony at the end of the Summer Reading Challenge. This year's prizes will include signed copies of books by the authors – two of whom will be B. Random and Chris Packham.

‘Knowledge is power - and free at libraries’

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