Ealing Council recently announced that residents and volunteer groups are stepping up to manage four local libraries – including West Ealing.
One of the groups that came forward was Ealing CVS, which has taken over the day-to-day running of West Ealing Library under ‘community managed’ status.
Ealing CVS will start to manage their local library on a volunteering basis from the start of the summer, while also offering community activities and events.
In support, the council’s library service is to continue to own and replenish book stock and will be giving training to each of the community groups.
Ealing CVS is a registered local charity which has been supporting voluntary and community sector groups in Ealing for more than 30 years.
You can watch what a number of its volunteers think of the new challenge at West Ealing Library in the video above.
‘An opportunity for new things’
Maggie Stovold, Ealing CVS volunteer, said there was excitement at the changes at the library. She said: “It’s such an important part of any community. I think that it is vital to keep libraries going as community hubs and maybe this is an opportunity for new things.
“You feel a sense of excitement, because it is an opportunity to throw the pieces in the air and use spaces differently. It is a balancing act of keeping something going, but maybe it is an opportunity for change and growth.”
Ann Jacklin, Ealing CVS trustee, said: “I think of them as vital community spaces. So, I tend to think of them as children doing their homework, older people coming in and meeting friends. And keeping their reading material. I love the idea of nitter natter club. They are great places for either ends of the age spectrum. For the older and very young. They are amazing local spaces. They are a part of growing up for many of us.”
The decision to seek community partners for five of the borough’s 13 libraries was made by the council last July, following a 12-week public consultation involving surveys, events and drop-in sessions. With a 64% cut in the council’s funding from central government, the council has had to explore options of providing services in a different way. It has been facing the challenge with a programme of change called Future Ealing which, among other things, aims to empower local people to do more.
‘We have many opportunities to help local people’
Ann added: “We think it is a shame where we are at the place where we have to look after them on a volunteer basis. But we are where we are. If I look at my glass half full, I think it might be a catalyst for more volunteers for our existing programmes. Having a shop front in a local area, we might be able to get more people who might want to help out. It is a real opportunity to put structure in their day. That is where we want to get a different demographic of people; retired ladies are good, but we also look for people who want to get in to work and get structure and start their career. We can see what we can do, we have many opportunities to help local people develop their skills.”
For more information on libraries go to the Ealing Council website.