Volunteers took control of the first Surrey library to be run by local people and immediately extended opening times.
They took over the day to day running of Byfleet library on Saturday September 22, giving them the power to unleash the branch’s full potential.
One of the first decisions made by the volunteers was to open the library’s doors five days a week, where previously they were only open on three.
Byfleet is the first of 10 branches in Surrey to become a community-partnered library. Under the partnership, Surrey County Council will continue to provide the building, books, computers, free wi-fi and everything else associated with a library.
Byfleet volunteer Beryl Marlow said: “We’re pleased to be open and get started. We have 50 people volunteering and they are on a rota every other week. We’ve got teachers, a former librarian, office workers and retired people, all sorts and we’re always looking for more volunteers.
“People really just wanted to get going. We’re elated at the moment and pleased to be up and running. We need the support of our community, so please come along and use the library to help us make it a success.”
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “By extending opening to five days a week, Byfleet is already experiencing the benefits of becoming a community partnered library. I’m certain the volunteers will unleash its full potential by tailoring the branch to meet local needs and increase the services it provides.
“The 10 libraries* becoming community partnerships account for just 6% of all library use and have limited opening hours. We didn’t want to see them decline which is why we’re giving local people the power to help them thrive.”
The library plans were previously delayed while a judicial review into the policy to let local people take control of 10 of Surrey’s 52 branches took place. This led to the council reconsidering the policy last summer, when councillors decided it should go ahead.
Byfleet library volunteers and users celebrated on Saturday with a launch party. To find out more about volunteering at the branch, please contact 01932 345286.
Media requiring more information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
* The 10 libraries are Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.