CAMPAIGNERS fighting to block the closure of Wiveliscombe Library will be signing a massive book opposing the move.

People in the town, business representatives and library users will be gathering at the protest in The Square next Wednesday (February 21) between 3pm and 4pm.

Somerset County Council recently announced plans for the library to be run by a community partnership or to be replaced by a mobile service.

Julian Mellor, chairman of the attempt to force the authority to change its mind, said: "These proposals are horribly short-sighted.

"Our library services have been developed by generations before us. But once closed they will be gone forever.

"The county is putting responsibility for keeping libraries open onto community volunteers. That is an abdication of its responsibilities. It is guilty of desperate and short-term thinking when what we need is long-term vision."

He said the library serves a rural population of 7,000 and has 23,000 visits a year.

Prize winning children’s author and local resident Ally Kennan said: "Libraries are so important for encouraging children to read. They are a place to explore and discover new worlds.

"An occasional visit by a mobile service will be a poor substitute for the fantastic library we currently have. It must be saved."

Pauline Homeshaw said: "Closure of our library will be devastating for Wiveliscombe. It has become an important hub in the town and will be missed by so many vulnerable people.

"Closing public services in rural areas just when we need them most will result in more pressure on over-stretched and underfunded volunteers. This simply cannot be sustained."

Announcing a consultation into the future of libraries in Somerset last month, cabinet member for resources and economic development Cllr David Hall said 15 o the 34 libraries could close without community involvement to keep them running.

He added: "These are challenging financial times and we must put libraries on a sustainable financial footing for the long term, while still delivering a modern thriving library service across our county.

"Library services will continue across Somerset whatever the response from this consultation, but our proposals highlight that keeping some libraries open may require community support.

"Where we are unable to keep libraries open, we will deliver library services in other ways such as via alternative venues or mobile library services."