‘It would be dreadful for Raunds if we lose the library’
NN Journal spent the day at the at-risk library
By Natalie Bloomer
Earlier this month NN Journal reported that Raunds is the latest area in Northants to face the loss of its library.
The service has been run by volunteers since cuts by the former Northants County Council in 2018 meant only a few libraries in the county were kept under statutory provision.
The purpose-built building which houses the library is owned by the new North Northamptonshire unitary authority and has been leased to the Library Trust (which is made up of volunteers) under a ‘Tenancy at Will’. This comes to an end in March meaning it will either have to be purchased at a cost of around £320,000 or leased for £17,000 per year.
The town council previously suggested it could buy or lease the building to safeguard its future but despite several town councillors also being on the unitary council, including Helen Howell who is the executive member responsible for libraries at NNC, no deal has been reached and the Library Trust was recently asked to submit a new business plan to be assessed.
We spent the day at the library speaking to local residents who told us what the service means to them and what a loss it would be for the town if it was to close.
The library users
Ellie and two-year-old Fred
“We used to use the library a lot when Fred was a baby, it was a community space in the town where I could come and look at books and breastfeed in a safe place. It’s somewhere we can use for free, we love it here. The volunteers are so helpful, they can’t do enough to help and Fred now has a real love of books.”
Sarah from Playmates pre-school
“The children [who have come down to visit the library] were so excited, some didn’t even know what a library was so it’s really important to do this. We are hoping to make it a regular activity because it will really enrich their day.
“Everything is done on gadgets now so perhaps there are ways that the council could help the library to modernise rather than letting it close. This should be a community hub where people can gather.”
“I’ve been coming here since it opened. What happens if it closes? Will they knock it down and build flats? It’s not like we have much else in Raunds.”
Kim and Daniel
“We have a three year old and now our newborn. We come down every couple of weeks, we have fond memories of using a library when we were younger. Our daughter has lots of books at home but she loves it here - she can play and draw.”
The knit and natter group
“I started coming here when I moved to Raunds last January, it was a way of meeting people. I now volunteer here as well. For me coming here is a social activity, if it closed I wouldn’t mix with people as much.”
“I moved here three years ago and also started coming to meet people. I’ve used a library since I was a child, I’d be very disappointed if it was allowed to close.
“I’ve always come here, I like the company. It can’t close, we couldn’t live without it. It would be a huge loss.”
“I’ve volunteered here since the trust took over. I would miss it very much personally and it would be dreadful for Raunds if we lose the library. Lots of young families can’t afford books and other people rely on it to socialise. One lady that comes in regularly is disabled and says she always looks forward to her visits as it’s a chance to have a chat and see other people.”
“My husband died in 2015 and I’ve been volunteering here since then. I’ve always loved books and have been a member of a library for as long as I can remember.
“It’s awful and appalling that Raunds could lose this, I moved here 42 years ago and the town has grown phenomenally since then and for every new house that is built that’s another person who might use the library service at some point. I’m very disappointed that the council haven’t found a solution, it would be sacrilege to let it close.”
“I’ve been doing the Library to You service for about four years. We deliver books to about 10 people every month who can’t get out. They tell us the authors and types of books they like and we select them for them. We kept it running during Covid and at the height of the pandemic I was leaving the books on the doorstep for them but usually they enjoy a chance to have a chat when I drop them off.
On the occasions when I’ve spoken to their family members they’ve told me what a lifeline this is. Many of the people I visited on my last round were worried about the library closing and them losing this.”
Raunds Town Council said:
“The Library Trust submitted their business plan to Raunds Town Council on 30 December 2021.
“Following the Full Council meeting on 11 January 2022 the Council working party met to review the business plan and arrangements are being made to meet with the Trust to consider the viability of the business plan and any other options. The working party will report back to the Council in due course.”
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You can read more about Raunds library here: