18th Oct, 2019

Historic Earlsdon Library in Coventry agrees two-year lease in bid to secure future

Editorial Correspondent 9th Oct, 2019 Updated: 9th Oct, 2019

EARLSDON’S community library has agreed a new lease which it hopes will secure its future for the next two years.

Plans are also afoot to transform the historic 107-year-old red-brick building into more of a “community culture hub” hosting film nights, choir evenings and improved internet access to appeal to the city’s growing student population.

Last year a charity was established to continue library provision at the formerly Coventry City Council-run library.

It is now run by a dedicated team of 77 volunteers and regularly attracts more than 1,000 visitors a week.

The new two-year lease has been struck with the council.

Graham Moffat, a trustee at Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library (ECCL), said: “The library has touched various generations across Earlsdon and provides both a vital library service and a space for people to come together to socialise, so we are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us to negotiate this new lease.

“The two-year lease gives us a good period of time to explore ways to raise money that can sustain the library in the longer term, while the council provides initial support by meeting utility bills and some other costs in addition to a bursary to cover our legal fees.

“We’re reconfiguring the library to make it a more flexible space so that we can host events such as film club nights and choir evenings,” added Mr Moffat.

“Earlsdon also has a lot of students and the internet facilities will hopefully attract some of them in the process – ultimately we want to provide both a successful library and a modern academic and leisure space where the community can relax.”

The new lease, concluded by Band Hatton Button solicitors, means work on refurbishing the building can start, and allows more time for further fundraising activities to improve the library long-term.

Heritage property restoration expert Alan Denyer, from AWD Restorations and an Earlsdon resident, is also donating a month of his time to reconfigure the layout of the library to create a “community culture hub.”

Plans include a 160-inch wide screen and projector donated by Mr Denyer, the creation of extended internet facilities, while more space will be created with freestanding book shelves.

The library is part-named after a Scottish-American businessman, Andrew Carnegie, who funded Earlsdon’s library, built by Coventry City Council in 1912.

It is one of several Coventry libraries now run by community volunteers, after years of council cuts and government funding cuts to local authorities.

Save Coventry Libraries campaigners have long warned of medium-term closures, with many community libraries becoming unsustainable nationally.

Coventry council gave Earlsdon residents the option of running their own library voluntarily, or seeing it close permanently.

Councillor Kevin Maton, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The library has an exciting future as a community hub offering a varied programme of activities whilst maintaining access to books and IT resources which will continue to be supported by the City Council. We look forward to continuing to work with ECCL into the future.”

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