Start of new chapter for village library

Volunteers are keen to run Whalley Library
Volunteers are keen to run Whalley Library

Plans to bring a village library back into public use have moved a step closer.

There has been an encouraging response from local volunteers who are keen to run Whalley Library, which closed last year under county council cuts.

The Lancaster Foundation has submitted a bid to purchase the building on Abbey Road with the aim of giving it back to the community.

The organisation is working with the Save Whalley Library Action Group on the project with the aim of leasing it back to the community for a peppercorn rent. It is envisaged that the space will become a more diverse community meeting venue with a modern book-lending facility at its core.

Chris Richardson, of the Lancaster Foundation, said: “The Lancaster family are very sympathetic to the Whalley residents following the library closure and see the potential of a thriving community hub being created to benefit many.

“We feel we have a good bid and I have been contacted by county councillor Albert Atkinson who assures me Lancashire County Council is keen to pledge money to run the establishment should the bid be successful.”

Billington councillor Ged Mirfin, said he was trying to obtain information from officials at county hall regarding the whereabouts of the books. He said: “I am trying to find out what happened to the books. I will also be approaching other local groups, such as the methodist church, who have 2,500 books in storage.”

Campaigner and local resident, Neil Martin, believes there is enough support for the project to be a big success.

He said: “This represents a fantastic opportunity to preserve a valuable community asset going forward. There are houses being built everywhere and people moving into the village. Libraries are natural places to meet. We have lots of ideas for the use of this facility. “There are the silver surfers, history society members and artists who enjoyed exhibiting their work, as well as various other support groups.

“Since the closure of Whalley Library, Whalley Lions have been opening the Methodist Hall in the village on Saturday mornings for a book swap scheme. That has proved to be a real success. On Easter Saturday we had 100 people turn up.”

If the library was to reopen, it will prove beneficial for local mum-of-three Mrs Ali Rouncefield-Swales. She said: “I work from home currently finishing a PhD. We moved here from Bristol. It’s an essential hub for young families. Kids love reading books and looking at illustrations. A library is essential for children as it gives parents a chance to take them where they can mix within the community and enjoy the books.

“It’s a generational resource and fantastic for kids.”

Francis Mercer, chairman of the North East Lancashire Dyslexia Association, said the library building was important for youngsters who struggle with literacy.

“I am totally against the closure of libraries. We have far more children with hand writing difficulties than we ever did. Youngsters who have dyslexia can use the library for support and we are happy to run courses to help the children.”