STUDENTS and staff at a Highbridge school have teamed up with a campaign group in a bid to block the closure of Highbridge Library. 

The Save Highbridge Library group has been active in campaigning to keep the library open since Somerset County Council launched a 12 week consultation into the future of Somerset's libraries on January 29.

Under the plans, 22 of 34 libraries could close unless ‘community involvement’ is found to keep them running.

But if nothing can be arranged, many face closure, being replaced with mobile library services or possible relocation. Fortunately, Burnham-on-Sea Library is unaffected. 

As part of National Book Week, pupils at Churchfield Church School on Burnham Road dressed up as characters from their favourite book on Thursday (March 8) and stood in protest with campaigners outside the school. 

Students and staff chanted 'Save Highbridge Library' with members of the campaign group in a plea to Somerset County Council to keep the library open. 

Justin Philcox, headteacher at Churchfield Church School, said the library is an important resource for the Highbridge community and the school is pleased to be supporting the group's campaign. 

"Just as a house without books is an impoverished house, it is inconceivable that any school can fully engage pupil's imaginations without the aid of books to suit all ages and abilities," Mr Philcox said. 

"Churchfield Church School is working hard on making sure every child at school has developed a love of reading.

"The library is an important resource within our community and the children and staff are proud to support the 'Save Highbridge Library' campaign.

"We can only hope that Somerset County Council realises the special nature of our Highbridge community, and finds ways continues to fund our local library with at least the trained staff and hours it currently has."

The Save Highbridge Library group, which was set up just days after the consultation was announced, launched a petition on February 18 to save the library which now has more than 150 signatures. 

Rob Pudner, a retired librarian from the Save Highbridge Library Campaign group, spoke at Bridgwater Trades Union Council's February meeting and urged residents and members to fight to keep the library open. 

"Libraries provide a vital and safe haven for members of the public, particularly children, to read, relax, share experiences and take part in community activities," Mr Pudner said. 

"In Somerset the numbers of qualified library staff have been reduced in the last decade. There is now only one mobile library in the county, where there used to be seven or eight."

Mr Pudner said the opening hours at the library have been cut 'severely' and as a result it is not useful to school children. 

He said Highbridge is an area of high social depravation and high unemployment and that the library needs to be open more regularly so it can be well used by residents and schools. 

"Library opening hours in Highbridge have been cut severely, the library currently only opens on Tuesdays from 2pm -4.30pm and on Thursday and Saturday mornings is which of little use to school children. 

"Now Somerset County Council is talking about closing it entirely, or leaving it to be run by volunteers.

"Highbridge is an area of high social deprivation and high unemployment, the library needs to be open for more regular hours at times which are useful to the whole community.

"This should be on a full-time and permanent basis and with trained library staff.

"Let's fight together to ensure that our vital library services in Somerset continue.”

To sign the petition click here