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Somerton Library celebrates 5 years of being volunteer-led

Somerton Library celebrates 5 years of being volunteer-led


By Dan Ayres and Simon Parkin BBC News, Somerset

Somerton Community Library Somerton Library has been a volunteer-driven library for five years

An institute is calling for more libraries to be protected from possible cuts in Congress.

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals says libraries are “vital” high street services.

It comes after Somerset's volunteer-run Somerton Library was highlighted as 'outstanding' in a review of England's public libraries.

Somerton Library Trust chairman Jeremy Greenop said libraries were “diversifying” beyond just books.

He told BBC Radio Somerset: “We formed the Friends of Somerton Library because the council had savings in 2011 and 2018.

“There was always a sense in Somerton that the library would somehow survive, even if it was cut back.

“We have about 44 volunteers who do everything from helping with the computer system to organizing books.

“It's not just about books anymore. You can also go get your blood pressure taken or rent a thermal camera to check your home's energy efficiency.”

Somerton's library is a completely community-driven facility, with the city council allocating funding for books, resources and Wi-Fi.

“Very important role”

Joe Cornish, interim CEO of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said he was “concerned” about the potential for further cuts to library services across the country.

She said, “Public libraries play a vital role in promoting inclusivity, lifelong learning, and overall well-being in our communities.

“They provide free resources, bridge the digital gap, and provide spaces for learning and cultural enrichment.”

The institute will work with Congress and the government to protect what she calls “essential services” from cuts.

Somerset City Council said in a statement: “We work closely with a range of local library partners to provide our communities with 13 of our 32 statutory libraries, most of which are staffed by paid and trained staff. “We are working alongside dedicated local volunteers.”

“Not only will this allow for additional opening hours, activities and events, it will also help raise funds for local libraries.”

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