Prestonians queued in the sub-zero temperatures for the moment many had been waiting more than a year for – their library to reopen.Advertisement
Fulwood Library is now open again and more than 50 people turned out to see the doors thrown open and its new look.
More than £100,000 has been spent by Lancashire County Council on refitting the library to have it ready for the Monday (11 December) reopening.
It was less than 24-hours away from being sold in May when contracts hadn’t been exchanged on its sale.
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The library had been closed in September 2016 as part of the previous Labour administration’s library closures – a decision it said at the time was because of central government funding cutbacks.
Lancashire’s Conservative group stood in the May elections on a ticket of reopening the libraries if it gained power at County Hall. They won power in May and have begun to reopen many of the libraries.
Leader of the county council and Preston North county councillor – who has the Fulwood Library within his division – Geoff Driver said: “It never should of been closed. We said we would reopen the libraries and that’s what we’re doing – either through voluntary groups taking them on or in many cases, such as Fulwood, staffing them and running them as a county council.
“It’s a question of priorities and we’re under no illusion about the financial situation of the county council – we have a £60million shortfall next year – but to me libraries are a vital part of the community.
“We have to cut our cloth accordingly and we’ve chosen to keep libraries open and ensure they are there to help the most vulnerable in our communities and be a place for everyone.”
Fulwood Library’s closure – as one of the busiest libraries in Lancashire for usage – riled many nearby residents.
Jane Porter led the campaign to keep the library open and collected nearly 4,000 signatures.
Her son Oliver, 12, is named in a plaque inside the library for helping to keep the library open and he was present at the opening.
Jane said: “It’s just wonderful to see the library back open again and to have everyone inside and enjoying it.
“We’ve had so many messages of support from people about it reopening and it’s just great to see. I’m so pleased.”
The library has 10,000 books in stock and the county council said many of the previous books had been restored.
A new IT suite has been put in at the back of the library and there’s new carpets and a lick of paint.
Fulwood has a dedicated library manager and also four part-time staff.
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A range of community sessions and groups are expected to use the library, with many previous book clubs and groups being restarted.
These are Fulwood Library’s opening hours
Monday 9am – 5pm
Tuesday 9am – 1pm
Wednesday 9am – 7pm
Thursday 9am – 5pm
Friday 9am – 5pm
Saturday 9am – 1pm
What do you think about the library re-opening? Let us know in the comments below