Earls Barton Library and Community Centre volunteers celebrate latest chapter

Volunteers and supporters gathered on Saturday to officially launch the new look library

Monday, 10th February 2020, 3:05 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 3:07 pm

Supporters who fought for three years to save Earls Barton's library cheered as the ribbon was cut marking the opening of the newly-refurbished centre.

About 80 people raised their glasses of fizz to welcome the new era of volunteer-run provision which had been under threat after Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) budget cuts.

Freshly repainted, the library has been spruced up with new flooring, new blinds and redesigned signage marking the centre's new chapter as a community-run statutory library.

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The Mayor of Wellingborough Jo Beirne cut the ribbon on Saturday

Ian Chacksfield, chairman of the trustees of Earls Barton Library and Community Centre, thanked library campaigner Cally Palôt-Watts and the volunteers.

He said: "I think it's absolutely wonderful. It's been purgatory - from closing down three years ago to opening up today - it has been an astonishing ride.

"I am delighted and I must say 'thank you' to Cally for leading this.

"Three years ago, NCC wanted to close the library and there was an outcry. We got together with the other libraries ready for battle. The other crucial part was Earls Barton Parish Council who I'd like to thank for their support and thanks to Anne Lovely who has been supportive all the way along the journey."

Ian Chacksfield and supporters cheer

Anne Lovely, strategic manager for Northamptonshire Libraries and Information Service, handed the keys to the library to Mr Chacksfield.

She said: "It looks amazing. These guys have worked so hard to make improvements. This just proves that working with the community we can supply a better library that suits the community."

Mayor of Wellingborough Jo Beirne cut the ribbon and sliced the celebration cake with Mrs Palôt-Watts, founder the Friends of Earls Barton Library.

Mrs Palôt-Watts said: "I'm relieved, excited and exhausted. Our efforts will now go into running the library.

The celebration cake

"I'd like to thank everyone who gave their time and to everyone who helped. People have been so generous."

The new-look library will continue to provide book-lending services as well as providing a space for community groups to meet.

Northamptonshire County Council will continue to own the building and provide the computers system but heating, lighting and rent will be paid by Earls Barton Parish Council.

Peter Morrall, chairman of Earls Barton Parish Council said: "The parish council decided to lease the library and pick up the running costs.

The new-look library has signage

"We had a sum of money for the logo and signage and 106 development money from David Wilson Homes which came to the library.

"I'm impressed. I have my own personal library of reference books at home which I use and will leave to the library but I'm even thinking about getting a library card and becoming a member."

Tim King, 67, who moved to Earls Barton last year has been volunteering at the library for two hours every fortnight.

He said: "The library provides a warm and welcoming environment. The social aspect is so important and it sticks the community together.

"It's absolutely remarkable what's been achieved."

The library will re-open on Wednesday, February 12 at 9am.

For opening times please go to their website.