Everyone loves a good book and whilst your local library is a haven for discovering something new to read, it offers so much more besides: computer access, free Wifi, magazines and newspapers to mention a few. But with proposed budget cuts, the future of the local library is under continued threat. A newly formed group called the Friends of Crickhowell Library has set its sights on saving their beloved library from more cuts and ensuring that it remains a local resource that everyone can continue to enjoy.
Last summer, Powys County Council carried out a public consultation on the future of its Library Services in the face of huge projected budget cuts across all council services. Elsewhere in the UK, cuts to funding have led councils to close libraries, hand over control to local volunteer-led groups and make skilled staff redundant. The result of the Powys consultation was a 20% cut in hours and staffing of libraries across the county.
The Friends of Crickhowell Library group was formed as a direct response to these cuts to the library service and so far has 50 members (with more people on the mailing list) who are concerned to support the branch and to ensure it has a sustainable future in the town.
The aims of the Friends are to promote the library service by raising community awareness of the service and its use across all age groups, to encourage and support new activities and events to complement and develop the existing library service, to raise funds to improve the library and library service in Crickhowell and to act as a link between Powys County Council, Powys Library Service and the wider community.
The group has already started work on achieving these aims. At four local primary school fetes, volunteers signed up lots of new library members, promoted the Summer Reading Challenge for children and sold second-hand books and raffle tickets. This summer the Friends supported the library in providing events every week for children during the holidays. From making books, to computer programming to toddler crafts, there was something for everyone to enjoy. And they have wide ranging and changing plans for future activities such as outreach work (e.g. visiting school fetes, local groups etc.), more fundraising, supporting the library staff with added value activities (such as organising displays and events) as well as representing users interests to the library service and the town and county councils.
Powys County Council has clearly stated that the 20% cut in hours and staffing will not be sufficient to sustain the service into the future, meaning that the threat of further cuts and closure remains an ever-present and serious concern. The work of the Friends is tremendously important if residents of Crickhowell wish to see the library survive. If you would like to become a member just email your name and address to: email@example.com or drop your details off at the desk in the library. You can also like the group on Facebook www.facebook.com/crickhowelllibrary. Remember to look out for the Friends of Crickhowell noticeboard in the library (between the photocopier and main entrance).