The Community Library in St Pauls, currently part of St Pauls Learning Centre on Grosvenor Road, is now in danger of closing.
The Council have planned to close over half of Bristol’s libraries, part of a wider drive to cut costs because of Government austerity.
Vocalise visited the library and spoke with the librarian there, who informed us that local people are reliant upon it both for using books and the computers. Indeed, in the space of just one hour we saw 44 attending the space – most of them children and young people living locally.
Earlier this year, the Council did a consultation on how libraries could be supported but there were no options laid out to keep the St Pauls library open. We contacted Councillor Asher Craig, who stated:
Vocalise has received no confirmed details of the ‘local group’ who want to run the library, and the St Pauls Learning Centre have received £15,000 in rent for the space, which they state is needed to keep the Centre going.
Local resident Julian Anges stated:
“It seems, once again, another community asset in St Pauls is going to be sold off. What will this space be in 1 year’s time… I wonder? All these books and the computers, no longer used by the public but thrown away or littering some charity shop? These young [people], where are they going to get their books? That [old gentleman] […], where is [he] going to use a computer?”
We contacted the Council in an effort to propose a joint community effort to keep the St Pauls Library open, involving volunteers and bringing in external funding, with the help of a subsidised rent. However, this option appeared to be of little interest to the decision makers.
Should we campaign to keep this library open as an asset for St Pauls, for the use of local people?
Could it be staffed by volunteers and funded outside of the Council’s budget?
Or should we just let it close?