“We’ve had a huge response from the local community,” said one of the trustees of a new community group that has stepped up to manage Northfields Library.
Ealing Council recently announced that residents and volunteer groups have come forward to take over the day-to-day running of several local libraries under ‘community managed’ status. Northfields, in Ealing, is one of these.
Under the name Northfields Community Library, a group of residents will start to manage the library on a volunteering basis from the start of the summer, while also offering community activities and events.
In support, the council’s library service is to continue to own and replenish book stock and will be giving training to each of the community groups.
In the video above, you can hear what volunteers at Northfields think of the new challenge.
Jenny Oldroyd, chair of trustees at Northfields Community Library, said: “I’ve got two children who are 12 and nine now. To be able to pop in somewhere that is welcoming and open for you at any point has been really important. My children really enjoy reading and I think the library has played a really big part in that.
“Keeping our library open is really important to the local community. And that is what we found from the work we have done from surveys with our volunteers over the last six months or so. People are really excited about the opportunity to be able to create and keep alive the library.
“We’ve had a huge response from the local community to keeping the library open, being able to run it as a community managed library that keeps it here for children, adults and for older people for years to come. It is a well-used library, it is a well-run library, and we are really excited about the chance to keep that legacy going over the next few years.
“So, we have 100 volunteers who have shown an interest in helping Northfields Community Library. I think that shows how much the local community cares about keeping our library open. If people want to get involved the best way of getting in touch is on our website.”
The decision to seek community partners for five of the borough’s 13 libraries was made by the council last July, following a 12-week public consultation involving surveys, events and drop-in sessions. With a 64% cut in the council’s funding from central government, the council has had to explore options of providing services in a different way. It has been facing the challenge with a programme of change called Future Ealing which, among other things, aims to empower local people to do more.