One of Earlsdon’s oldest community assets has secured its future for the next two years.
Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library (ECCL) – the charity established in 2018 by volunteers to continue library provision – has agreed a new two-year lease on its 107-year-old building after Band Hatton Button solicitors successfully concluded the deal with Coventry City Council on behalf of the library.
The library is part-named after a Scottish-American businessman, Andrew Carnegie, who funded the creation of Earlsdon’s library which was built by Coventry City Council in 1912, but the library has been facing an uncertain long-term future following changes to the provision of library services in the city.
The new lease means the library – which is operated by a dedicated team of 77 volunteers and regularly attracts more than 1,000 visitors a week – can begin an internal refurbishment while allowing more time to implement additional fundraising activities to benefit the library in the long run.
Alan Denyer, from AWD Restorations and an Earlsdon resident, is also donating a month’s worth of his time to reconfigure the layout of the library to create a “community culture hub.”
Graham Moffat, a Trustee at Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library, said: “The library has touched various generations across Earlsdon and provides both a vital library service and a space for people to come together to socialise, so we are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us to negotiate this new lease.
“The two-year lease gives us a good period of time to explore ways to raise money that can sustain the library in the longer term, while the council provides initial support by meeting utility bills and some other costs in addition to a bursary to cover our legal fees.”
To help attract more visitors to the library, Denyer and a team of volunteers plan to create a space for the library to hold a wider variety of events whilst still maintaining comprehensive library services.
Planned changes are set to include the installation of a 160-inch wide screen and projector donated by Denyer, the creation of extended internet facilities, while some of the library’s shelving will be taken off the wall and turned into freestanding shelves to create more room.
“We’re reconfiguring the library to make it a more flexible space so that we can host events such as film club nights and choir evenings,” added Moffat.
“Earlsdon also has a lot of students and the internet facilities will hopefully attract some of them in the process – ultimately we want to provide both a successful library and a modern academic and leisure space where the community can relax.
“We’re extremely grateful to Alan, Band Hatton Button and Coventry City Council for their efforts to help support the volunteers in ensuring a bright future for the library.”
He added: “We are passionate about helping the Coventry community where we can, be it professionally or fundraising, so we are thrilled to have got this deal over the line for such an important community asset.
“We recognise that visiting the library is a part of hundreds of families’ weekly routine, and so we were able to provide a discounted service to help the library to secure its future.
“We will be monitoring the library’s progress over the coming months and look forward to supporting them in the future.”
Cllr Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “The City Council is delighted to have concluded a lease and agreement with ECCL to open a new chapter in the life of Earlsdon Library.
“The library has an exciting future as a community hub offering a varied programme of activities whilst maintaining access to books and IT resources which will continue to be supported by the City Council. We look forward to continuing to work with ECCL into the future.”