World of ideas within the pages of volunteer library

Volunteer Beata Walker
Volunteer Beata Walker

A village library has been running on volunteer power for a decade.

Gamlingay’s library has had only one paid member of staff since it became Gamlingay Library Access Point 10 years ago – but it is still going strong.

And one year ago it moved into the Eco Hub, gaining its own space and allowing it to flourish as it should do.

Kate Laugharne is the paid library supervisor. She said: “We had a Cambridgeshire County Council library in Gamlingay about 10 years ago.

“Then they had a reorganisation and they converted it to a library access point. We’ve been volunteer run for about 10 years now.

“We were at Gamlingay Village College for about eight years then we moved to the parish council office and now here we are. Since we moved here we’ve replaced 1/3 to 1/2 of our books. We get between 300 to 400 users a month and it’s getting better all the time.”

The library had some success at the middle school but users had to fit in around school hours. Its period in the parish council offices was less than ideal as there was very little room.

Now the library is based in the main room of the Eco Hub. The books are on fold out shelves, which are shut at the end of the day so that the area can be used by other groups.

Between 15 and 20 volunteers help the facility to run smoothly with many giving their time for a few hours each week.

Access points cannot share the majority of their books with the county’s main libraries or receive books in return. Instead they rely on donations and acquire old books from the county’s libraries. But people can order in books from the other libraries for free.

Kate added: “We wouldn’t be able to do it if we didn’t get decent back up from the county council. If we have a problem we ring them up and they tell us what to do.”

And the each volunteer will bring their own subject knowledge or skill to the library, she said.

The library’s next event is Gamlingay Bookfest on Saturday, April 20. To find out more visit www.gamlingaybookfest.org.uk or stop by the library.

It is open from 2pm to 8pm on Mondays, 9.15am to 12.15pm on Tuesdays, 10.30am to 3.15pm on Wednesdays, 4pm to 7pm on Thursdays and 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. Activities include toddlers’ story time, homework club and computer training.