Thu, 06 Dec 2018
WASH Common Library was re-opened to the public last week after months of tireless fundraising and campaigning by one community group.
The launch of the opening took place on Saturday, December 1, when local residents and members of The Friends of Wash Common Library group gathered to cut a ribbon.
The group, which formed after the library’s closure in April 2017 with the aim of restoring the service, applied to take over the running of the facility through West Berkshire Council’s devolution programme.
The re-opening of the library has also been made possible by Newbury Town Council, which will be liable for the peppercorn rent of the building for a period of five years.
The library will open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with plans for increased opening hours and community use in the future.
The facility closed in April 2017 after West Berkshire Council said it could no longer afford to run it.
The closure was one of several measures taken by the local authority to save around £580,000 a year within the library service.
The Friends group launched a ‘book exchange’ in February – which proved there was enough local demand for the service.
Woolton Hill resident Mrs Calvert, who used Wash Common Library for nine years before it was closed, said: “We knew people were interested then and that there was a real; demand for a library service in Wash Common.
“I think that’s the great thing about it – the support of the community.”
At present, the library will open on Mondays, Wednesdays from 2.30pm-6.30pm.
On Saturdays, it will open from 10am-12pm – but Mrs Calvert is optimistic that, with more volunteers on board, its operating hours can increase and improve its facilities, such as installing computers for elderly residents to use.
Mrs Calvert added: “We hope it will grow. At the moment we are only open three days a week.
“Once we get going, we hope there will be more volunteers coming forward – we are always looking to recruit more helpers.
“If they come to the library during opening times then we will definitely be interested – the more the merrier.
“We hope to develop the service by having book weeks so that other people can use the space for a natter, as well as for children’s use.
“We want to be a real community space.”
Mrs Calvert has been supported in her work by a 14-strong committee made up of councillors and local residents – but it was her parental instinct and past experiences of using community libraries with her own children which inspired her to re-open the facility.
“As a parent, some time you just need to get out of the house with the children, to a warm safe place,” she said.
“Whenever I went there, there was always people inside local residents using the computers using people, families, using the children’s area.”