Call for volunteers as library gets go-ahead

Friends of Winslow Library, from the left, Kay Sargeant, Guy Hawking and Sue Renshell.'130117M-B258
Friends of Winslow Library, from the left, Kay Sargeant, Guy Hawking and Sue Renshell.'130117M-B258

Winslow Library has been saved for the residents of the town and surrounding villages, thanks to the hard work of a group of local volunteers.

This week, Bucks County Council (BCC)cabinet member for community engagement, Martin Phillips, approved a proposal by the Friends Of Winslow Library which will see the library relaunched as Winslow Community Library.

In January 2011, BCC announced its intention to close smaller local libraries and concentrate resources on larger ‘county libraries’.

Residents were invited to consider taking over the library activities by setting up ‘community libraries’ to serve their local community.

The strength of public feeling against the threat of closure was shown when 150 people attended a public meeting organised by BCC in November 2010.

A follow-up public meeting facilitated by Winslow Town Council in the Public Hall saw about 60 people express an interest in getting involved.

Out of that developed the group calling themselves the Friends Of Winslow Library, who have been responsible for negotiating a way forward with the county council.

And now, said chairman of the group, Guy Hawking: “Out of the Friends of Winslow Library will emerge, like a butterfly from a chrysalis, the Winslow Community Library Management Committee.”

The proposal which has finally been accepted by BCC will save the county council about £20,000 a year.

BCC will retain ownership and responsibility for the library building and will continue to provide the book stock, and other equipment.BCC will continue to employ a full-time equivalent professional librarian, but in future they will be assisted by a team of volunteers.

Training will be provided.

Mr Hawking said: “It has been a tortuous process but we are actually where we want to be. There was enthusiasm to retain the library but we did understand the financial difficulties the council was getting into.

“We’re really thrilled Winslow Library will become a community library.

“There’s now really some excitement about welcoming people to get involved. We’ve got one or two ideas and we’re wide open to suggestions.

“We’re very interested in whatever volunteers can do. We’re not asking people to sign up for a whole day or commit for two years at a time. We hope we can run a flexible volunteering roster so people can live their lives as well as help run a community library.”

Anyone wanting to find out more can attend a public meeting in the Winslow Centre at 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 20. The group is also planning a couple of open events in the library so people can see what is involved.