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Library closes in readiness for move to Eden
12:09pm Tuesday 18th March 2008 in News
A CHAPTER of High Wycombe's history will end tomorrow when the town's library closes its doors after 76 years.
The Queen Victoria Road library will check out its last book before beginning a month-long move to a new home at the Eden shopping centre.
Bookworms are invited to tea and cakes today to mark the end of an era which took readers through a world war and 17 prime ministers.
But Judith Curry, who is leading the move, said the new facility was "desperately needed".
The new library - opposite Marks & Spencer - spans four floors and at 2,200sqm is twice the size of its predecessor.
Buckinghamshire County Council, which runs the library, hopes to increase stock from about 45,000 books to 58,500. It will open on June 3. From Monday a reduced stock will be available from a mobile facility at the rear of the Queen Victoria Road library.
Mrs Curry said: "The present library is so cramped and rundown so a lot of customers are pleased.
"I think some are still nostalgic and attached to the old building because it has been part of the town since 1932."
Yet, it had been recognised that the library needed a new home since the late 1960s, Mrs Curry said. Recent anti-discrimination legislation had presented problems as the library had no lifts, she added.
Of the new facility Mrs Curry said: "It is a very different feel, the whole library opens up which is something we don't have at the moment.
"The whole town has shifted a little more west. The location is great, it is in the town centre right at the heart of the new development."
The new library promises an improved family history and local studies area and an exhibition space for art and history.
Books were as popular as ever, she said, with 500,000 visits made to the library a year.
Yet while the availability of cheap DVDs and music downloads means films and CDs are no longer so popular, technology will play a major role at the new library.
Each book is to be fitted with a tag which sends out a radio signal - meaning staff can find a book with a tracker device and customers can check books out themselves.
And for the first time High Wycombe's library will have public toilets.
Mike Dewey, chairman of the Friends of High Wycombe Libraries, said: "Everybody in the town is pleased that it is moving. The present library was state of the art in 1932, but is far from it now."
County councillors are this month visiting Bucks libraries as part of council review into facilities. They have been told there is a decline in library usage'.