Closed library saved by the community

Hundreds of people from Greater Manchester have saved their local library from imminent closure by setting up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

Friends of Denton West End Library have successfully brought the library into community ownership after purchasing the building from the local authority with loans from Co-operative & Community Finance and the Co-operative Loan Fund.

Residents discovered that there were plans to close Denton West End Library and dispose of the building, at a public meeting held in July 2012. After the meeting a group of local people organised a campaign to save the library which began with the formation of a Friends Group, and evolved into one of the first Charitable Incorporated Organisations in the country.

The library was registered as a community asset to provide time for the group to raise support, funds, lobby the local authority, and to ultimately bring this vital community resource into community ownership. Over 12 months, many community fundraising events were held, and thousands of flyers calling for support were distributed.

The charity has been working to renovate the library throughout the summer and has received support from local businesses and organisations, including generous donations of computer equipment, software and building work.

The library has been open two days a week for various activities throughout this period, but will now be open full time after celebrating a grand reopening this past weekend.

David Booton, one of the charity’s founding Trustees, said: “The loan from Co-op Finance has really helped us realise our dream. Suddenly we went from worrying we might run out of steam and thinking we might not make it, to everything coming together as planned. We’re really engaged with the local community and everyone is so enthusiastic. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support.”

Space in the library will be used by nearby schools as outreach study classrooms and homework areas, and by local community groups for numerous activities. The library will also host after school groups, classes, and activities for both adults and children of all ages, to provide long term services and benefits to the whole community.

Ian Rothwell said: “This is a very committed and efficient team with a wide range of skills being put to good use helping to keep open a very useful community asset.”