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Meeting could seal Bradwell Library fate

PUBLISHED: 16:15 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:52 03 July 2010

DWINDLING VISITOR NUMBERS: Bradwell Library

DWINDLING VISITOR NUMBERS: Bradwell Library

Laura Bagshaw

JUST five years after it was the subject of a community's spirited campaign which kept its doors open Bradwell Library is once again in the spotlight as the building's owners consider its future.

JUST five years after it was the subject of a community's spirited campaign which kept its doors open Bradwell Library is once again in the spotlight as the building's owners consider its future.

A public meeting on Wednesday aims to gauge local opinion on whether the 12,000-title strong library should be kept open as user numbers dwindle.

Earlier in the month the Mercury revealed how the 100-year-old Lords Lane building often saw just a handful of people walk through its doors for the two afternoons and one morning the library is open.

A good day would see 12 people in, and there have been a number of occasions where volunteer staff have been left finger tapping with not a single customer.

Now the Reading Room Trust, which owns the building, has called a public meeting to consider its future.

The library hit the headlines in 2003 when there was public outcry over plans by Norfolk County Council to close it as part of a cost-cutting measure.

Refusing to admit defeat, residents decided to go it alone and provide their own library and launched a book appeal to stock the shelves.

Hailed as a community success, the library was extended to the tune of £35,000 in 2007 to include a new study room and disabled persons' toilet, courtesy of local builder Dale King.

However, the library's popularity has since declined although volunteer manager Ron Howland said usage had picked up slightly since the library's plight was featured in the Mercury.

He said: “It is a little better. We probably have one new member join each time we are open and members who haven't been in for a while are coming back.”

However, Mr Rowland said he was keeping an open mind on Wednesday's meeting: “I don't know what format the meeting will take or how well it will be attended by the public but I live in hope the library will be kept open.

“Our regular customers would like to see it stay obviously, but I think a lot of them are pessimistic about it.”

Mr Rowland disagreed that a lack of publicity could have contributed to its decaying usage: “We advertise weekly in the Mercury village notes, church magazine and the village magazine.”

The library has 21 volunteers who work on a rota basis when it opens on Monday and Thursday afternoons and Saturday morning.

While it has 1,500 people on its books it is used by only 200 people.

The public meeting is at the Mill Lane Community Centre on Wednesday, at 7.45pm.


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