The Value of Our Community Libraries and Keeping Them Open
Thank you Mr Mayor.
As all of you sitting in this chamber are fully aware of the impending closure of many of our local Libraries and the need to protect and keep them open to serve our local wards and communities for future use.
My local Library is ‘Abington Library’ it has been serving my community for 79 years and still continues to be a cornerstone and shinning beacon for many local families.
Even though opening days have now been reduced to 3 days a week because of county council cutbacks –the loyal dedicated hardworking staff and volunteers provide the following activities –
- Advice for young families
- Homework Club
- Tutoring of children who are excluded from school
- Free wi-fi to study
- printing facilities for all to use.
- Social services family contact and counselling meetings use the library because it is a place of safety
- Nursing homes visit with their residents These are just some of the many service our library provide.
The future of all 21 libraries is still uncertain ‘The Friends of Abington Library ‘have now finalised the use of a near by Community centre for 2 mornings a week for a trail period to set up an independent book-swap Library service which will act as an extension to the current library service on the days that it is currently closed
If Abington Library and other local libraries disappear what then happens next? Remaining accessible libraries become a bus journey away (that’s if the bus services haven’t been reduced in the area!) they may be a 20 minute car journey away, would residents get parked close enough to where they need to be, would they have to pay to park?
Don’t forget many of the services that our now closed ‘Sure Start’ and ‘Children’s Centres’ provided -went into local libraries –what happens if and when local libraries close –where do these services go to then ?, will they just disappear as another cutback to local services?
As a former longstanding school governor of Headlands Primary school I saw the amazing impact our ‘Sure Start ‘centre had locally –parents of all ages would come to the centre to use all its facilities and sometimes getting that advice that would bring reassurance that new parents always need in those early years.
Indeed we even had a birth in the centre which brought great joy to the school and all our parents.
I asked ‘Sue’ one of the volunteers at Abington Library and on the friend’s committee to highlight how it supports the local community ‘Libraries are for the young, the old and the in between, the disabled and the vulnerable –for everyone’
‘A comfortable and safe place to meet friends, find companionship and support - plus help in dealing with the outside world’
‘I have a friend who visits the library regularly who has a guide dog, she has given a talk and demo to children about being sight impaired’
‘We encourage people where English is not their first language to join us for tea and coffee and have been told it is beneficial to hear English spoken in a social context, also practicing conversation without feeling embarrassed’
In closing I would like to invite all councillors here to the ‘Friends of Abington Library’ garden fete on Saturday 14th July between 10am and 12, I look forward to seeing some of you there supporting the community library.