New chapter dawns for Appledore Library
A NEW chapter is dawning in the story of Appledore Library. Devon County Council could not only resume full funding of the library, but additional services such as support for children and adult education could be made available and it could move to new p
A NEW chapter is dawning in the story of Appledore Library.
Devon County Council could not only resume full funding of the library, but additional services such as support for children and adult education could be made available and it could move to new premises - if new recommendations are adopted.
The prospect of this bright new future follows a review of the library by the county council, which has prompted the following recommendations:
*That funding, currently given by the Friends of Appledore Library (FOAL) to cover the electricity, business rates and maintenance costs, becomes the responsibility of the County Council once more.
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*That the council investigates the possibility of relocating the library to more accessible and suitable premises in the town, to provide a community hub that would include library, information and learning services.
*And that the council sees whether its library services in Appledore could operate in partnership with Bideford's Children's Centre and adult learning.
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Appledore Library escaped closure a few years ago, when usage was deemed sufficiently poor to question its long term viability.
But local group FOAL campaigned to keep it open, agreeing to take on electricity, rates and maintenance costs.
While the council continued to pay �30,000 annually for staffing, book stock and cleaning, FOAL contributed �4,500 towards costs and usage has increased.
The situation was to be reviewed again next year, but county councillor Stuart Barker, who is responsible for the council's libraries, agreed to bring forward the review after visiting Appledore recently.
"I am not happy with the financial arrangements for Appledore. Nowhere else in Devon does the local community contribute to library costs in this way and I don't think they should have to," he said. "Where possible, we would like our libraries to broaden their appeal to become centres that provide a range of community services. We are already discussing the possibility of providing additional services from the library."
The council wants Devon to have 21st century libraries, but access to Appledore's current library is poor and people with limited physical mobility are unable to access the building.
Mr Barker said: "We want to start looking for more suitable premises in Appledore. We will be working with the district council and other local partners to decide how much of our work could be delivered jointly within the town. We would like FOAL to work with us to help develop the service and I hope that their excellent fundraising experience and knowledge of the community can be focused on promoting the library within Appledore."
Andrew Eastman, local county councillor for Northam, said: "I am pleased that the county council's new administration has responded quickly and positively to my request for an early review of the library. I am also extremely pleased that the Library's future has completely turned around for the good. No longer does the threat of closure hang over us. I am very grateful that the county council is now taking over full responsibility for the funding of the library. I would like to thank Cllr Barker and the council's Leader Cllr Hart for their recent visit and for moving the situation along so quickly.