Friends seek to involve community in library

PUBLISHED: 09:09 23 August 2015

Budleigh Salterton Library.

Budleigh Salterton Library.

Archant

More public involvement in the running of Budleigh Salterton Library could lead to new initiatives, ranging from coffee mornings to a new library building.

That’s according to members of the library’s new friends group committee, which was elected from hundreds who have signed up as friends since the group was launched in April.

It was formed in response to plans by Devon County Council to reorganise its library service.

It plans to turn Devon Libraries into a mutual organisation, which would then be commissioned by the council to run libraries.

Friends groups from libraries across Devon will have a key role to play in this mutual, which will save money on business rates and be able to apply for funding grants not possible under council control.

The Budleigh group says its role will be to raise funds for projects which add to the existing service, and play a role linking the library with the community, able to receive suggestions from residents.

Budleigh Friends chairman Jake Tebbs said: “The library will still be funded by the council as now, services will be commissioned by the council, but there is room now for more innovation in collecting funds.”

Vice-chairman Gill Harris said: “It will be about what the community needs and desires.

“And promoting the library within the community, all it’s got to offer, and promoting reading.”

Fundraising is set to be through a mixture of community events and grant applications, with the friends already receiving donations from Budleigh Salterton Town Council and the Norman Family Charitable Trust.

The first major project the friends have been involved in is the upcoming party for youngsters who complete the library’s summer reading challenge.

Future projects could range from holding coffee mornings and assisting with older people’s IT training, to extending or even replacing the library building.

But it is still very early days, with the committee having only held two meetings so far, and all will depend on how much money is available.

Jake said: “We have got to make money before we can spend it on building a new library. At least the extension of the library is on the cards, and perhaps a new building. It all depends on the financial position of Devon Libraries and ourselves.”

Friends’ secretary Lauretta Wozniczko said: “Because we’re still so new, we are still looking at getting together a wish list. We’re still trying to establish our objectives.”

Gill said: “We hope to put on events around authors and events for children.

“We could cover things the library is no longer able to cover or hasn’t in the past.”

The committee is keen to hear any suggestions residents might have for the library, and these can be emailed to budleighlibraryfriends@gmail.com

Residents can still join the friends at the library, for a donation of £1.

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