Hope remains high as community battle for their own library

Vivien Hendry – battling for community library survival

A Moray community are to mark the successful launch of what is thought to be Scotland’s first community library.

Almost exactly a year after a ‘flash mob’ protest at Hopeman was held in an attempt to save the local library from closure a gathering of a very different kind will be held in the village this weekend.

Efforts to retain Hopeman Library was ultimately doomed to failure – however, from the ashes of the former library grew the Hopeman Community Library and Hub, a community project that six months from its creation has demonstrated what can be done with hard work and determination.

Vivien Hendry was a driving force that ultimately led to the retention of three of the seven libraries threatened with closure by Moray Council in 2013. Sadly, Vivien’s own local library in Hopeman was one of the four that was forced to close.

Help from the local community and beyond saw the launch of the community library, now six months later Vivien says the constant battle goes on to keep the new library funded and open.

She said: “Since April this year the library has grown to 140 members who have borrowed 380 books.

“The library opens for three sessions per week on Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Saturday’s. The busiest session so far was 19th May when 18 books were borrowed and at one point 12 people were crammed into what is not a very large space.

“Our library is entirely run by volunteers, and along with the committee members there is 18 involved with the project at present aged from seven to 70.”

The library now boasts around 1900 books on display with a further 600 stored in Lossiemouth thanks to help from the Moray Housing Partnership.

Vivien added: “This allows the books on the shelves to be rotated. All of these books have been donated by individuals, companies and start up books from Publishing Scotland and others.

“But the library has no funds at present except what has been raised or donated.”

The library must remain at its present location in a side-hall of the Memorial Hall for the “foreseeable future”, despite it affording very little space and being too small to permit the use of computers and internet access vital to any modern library.

Vivien said: “Ironically, Hopeman still has two empty library buildings! The old building on Forsyth Street was sold by Moray Council to a private individual and has stood empty for over four years now.

“The new library, just four years old this month, has been stripped of all its shelving and furniture but 10 months after it was closed the plans to turn it into a new nursery have not progressed and it sits desolate and empty.”

A proposal at a recent Community Association meeting should see a working group being set up to investigate an extension to the Memorial Hall and Ms Hendry hopes that might include further space for the library that would allow a computer suite.

Vivien said: “A survey is being devised which will be delivered to all Hopeman residents to find out what they would like to see, use and support before this idea may progress and new members to the Working Group would be most welcome.”

The library is marking survival through its first six months with a Coffee Morning on Saturday that will include a visit from storyteller Michael Williams.

Taking place at the Memorial Hall the event will include stalls, book sales and a raffle with the doors opening from 10am until 12noon.

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