One of the UK’s leading authors has said that communities in Moray should always have their own libraries as of right and provided by the Council.
Lari Don was speaking ahead of the formal opening in Hopeman of the first community-run library in Scotland.
The community opened the Hopeman Community Library and Hub after a long fight to keep the local public library open had failed. Hopeman was one of four library branches forced to close their doors earlier this year by Moray Council.
The idea was sparked by local parent Vivien Hendry, who was a leading light in a fierce campaign to save Moray’s libraries when the council insisted that seven throughout the region had to close.
Ms Hendry became the focus of a planned legal action against Moray Council that ultimately forced them to back down from closing all seven libraries – but the action did not save Ms Hendry’s own library in Hopeman.
Before opening the new community library and hub tucked away in a small room at Hopeman’s Memorial Hall, Lari Don said: “I’ve been so impressed at how hard Vivien Hendry and others in Hopeman have worked, firstly to try and save their library and all the libraries in Moray only to have that pulled out from under them – to lose the Hopeman library was a terrible shock for the community.
“I’m now fascinated by what the Hopeman community are doing, setting up all those books – this is fantastic, they are setting up a community library, setting up a hub and that is an amazing thing for a community to do.
“However, it is not something that a community should have to do.
“Every community should have a library provided by the local council – so while I’m in Hopeman to support the community doing an amazing thing that is fantastic for book lovers in Hopeman, it should not be necessary.
“Internet connections, computers, access to books – people in Hopeman will have access to the community libraries books but not all the other books in all the other libraries in Moray, which is what everyone in Dufftown will have because they still have a library.
“So it is wonderful that they are doing it but they should not have to – no council anywhere should say ‘look at Hopeman, if the community care enough about their library they will build their own one so we can just shut it’.
“They should not think that because communities should have their libraries as of right and provided by the council.”
Vivien Hendry agreed, and while thanking those businesses and above all the people from the Hopeman community who had helped in making the community library possible she responded to a comment made last week by the Leader of Moray Council, Councillor Allan Wright, that in some ways the creation of the Hopeman facility was proof that communities can take responsibility for some of their own services.
She said: “Allan Wright said last week that our creating this library ‘just showed that community can do this for themselves’.
“But this is not going to be the same as a properly run council library, and although we have this space for six months we have no funding other than what we can raise ourselves or through grant applications.
“So this is a first step that we hope we will be able to continue, but at the moment it is not secure without funding or guaranteed space. Obviously if it is well used we would like to be able to expand, perhaps making it more of a community hub and offer more services as well.”
The Hopeman Community Library and Hub will be open on Tuesday’s from 11.30am to 1.30pm, Thursday’s from 5.30pm to 8.30pm and on Saturday mornings from 10am until 12noon.
Hopeman Library from insideMoray.