Abington Library in Northampton reopens to the public after being saved by the community

'One lady was in tears, she said she couldn't believe we had reopened'

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 11:27 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 12:02 pm
Some of the volunteers at the re-opening of Abington Library on Tuesday
Some of the volunteers at the re-opening of Abington Library on Tuesday

A library in Northampton that was closed in the first national lockdown has reopened run entirely by volunteers.

Abington Library was closed by the now defunct Northamptonshire County Council in March last year. It was one of the libraries earmarked for closure when the Conservative-run administration closed a number of libraries in 2017.

Up until March last year, the county council had kept the library open but with reduced opening times and with the support of volunteers.

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Now the library has reopened and is being run entirely by the community - to the delight of people in the area.

Jan Anderson, chair of the Friends of Abington Library, many people have expressed their thanks after the library reopened on Tuesday, April 20.

"It has been absolutely amazing. People were coming back in - there was one lady who was in tears and said she couldn't believe we had reopened. Others were saying, they couldn't believe we were back," Jan said.

It has been made possible by a team of around seven or eight volunteers, as well as the support of West Northamptonshire Council which has allowed the library to use the building.

The opening times are 10-2 on Tuesdays, 2-4 on Thursdays and Fridays, and, starting on June 4, on the first Saturday of every month there will be a coffee morning.

Jan is hoping that when Covid-19 restrictions ease further they will be able to recruit more volunteers and open longer.

Next month, the current Poet Laureat Simon Armitage, will be visiting to officially open the library, an event that will be live-streamed on the library's website.

When Simon announced he would be visiting libraries around the country on an A-Z basis, it had to be postponed due to the pandemic but now the first seven libraries are being visited from April 26 to May 1.

Using the alphabet as a compass, Simon’s journey will celebrate libraries as “great and necessary” institutions.

Simon said: “I want to celebrate the physical space of libraries and take my work back into places that have given me so much. In relation to Abington, I'm delighted to be involved in the opening of the Library. It feels like planting a seed in the garden of knowledge."

Simon will be at Abington Library in Northampton on Saturday May 1 to give a poetry reading and to officially open the library .

Although originally planned as an event that people could attend, this will not now be possible and it will instead be live-streamed from 11.30am to 12.45pm.

Jan added: “We were honoured and delighted when Abington Library was selected as one of the first libraries to be visited by Simon Armitage.

"The library building is a very special place that is much loved in our community. Originally built as a small church just over 100 years ago, it became a library in 1939 when the building was purchased by Northampton Borough Council.

"Although various attempts to close it have been successfully fought off, in more recent years the library was one of those that in 2019 Northamptonshire County Council decided it wished to hand over to voluntary or community groups.

"As a Friends group, we have worked incredibly hard to save this library so that it can continue to be a focus for people who enjoy books and reading and all the other activities that we are able to offer in the main library and the additional meeting room."