Meet the five-year-old fighting to save her Sunderland library

Five-year-old Elsie Crone who has made a banner in an effort to save Bunny Hill Library from closure.
Five-year-old Elsie Crone who has made a banner in an effort to save Bunny Hill Library from closure.
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A pint-sized campaigner has vowed to save a Sunderland library under threat of closure.

Five-year-old Elsie Crone, from Red House, was devastated when she learned that her beloved Bunny Hill library could be shut as part of major funding cuts affecting Sunderland City Council.

Bunny Hill Library

Bunny Hill Library

A public consultation was launched in January to ask the public for their views on the future of library services in the city.

The St John Bosco RC Primary School pupil got straight on the case and produced a home-made banner calling for the library, in Hylton Lane, to be saved.

Elsie, who lives with mum Danielle, 31, a hairdresser, and dad Chris, a 35-year-old off-shore inspector, now plans to present the banner to the library with her nanna.

Danielle said: “I’ve taken her to the library from being two and she absolutely loves it.

In her words she wants to ‘fix it’ – she wants to save the library

Danielle Crone, Elsie’s mum

“She knows all the people who work there, and recently when I took her they told her that they might be closing.

“She was so upset. In her words she wants to ‘fix it’ – she wants to save the library.

“She can’t understand why it would be shutting. It’s always busy.

“Elsie just wants to go there and read books and pretend she is a school teacher.

Councillor John Kelly

Councillor John Kelly

“She also pretends she works there and helps stamping the books.

“She goes to craft weekends at Easter. We are worried we are not going to have that any more.

“She goes every fortnight on a Thursday and we spend about an hour-and-a-half there.

“I sometimes get some books and sit and read. We spend up to three hours a day there during the school holidays.”

Five-year-old Elsie Crone who has made a banner in an effort to save Bunny Hill Library from closure.

Five-year-old Elsie Crone who has made a banner in an effort to save Bunny Hill Library from closure.

Danielle believes the decline of libraries is bad news for new generations.

“It’s a waste and just quite sad for the younger generation,” she said.

“They just go home to play on iPads with no incentive to get into reading.

“I’m just as upset that all the local libraries could be shutting.

“Yes, a charity could take over, but I very much doubt that will happen.

“It would be such a shame to have that massive building just for a doctor’s suregry and gym.”

Danielle has a little brother or sister on the way for Elsie in July.

She added: “She says the baby won’t have anywhere to read either.”

Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “We have had expressions of interest from a number of community groups who are interested in running library buildings as community venues which would also offer books and digital library services.

“Following an initial meeting, we are going to be working closely with these groups over the next few weeks to help them develop their ideas further.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to find a solution which will allow library buildings in areas where there is a community interest in running them to stay open as community venues with access to library books wherever this is possible.

“We would also ask any community groups who missed the meeting but are interested in running their local library as a community venue to get in touch.

“The proposed changes reflect the unprecedented cuts to our budget since 2010 as a result of Government austerity measures and cost pressures.

“Over the same period the number of people visiting our libraries has fallen by more than half. In 2011/12 there were over a million visits to libraries. By 2015/16 this had dropped to just over 500,000.

“But it also takes account of the fact that people have changed their reading habits, partly because of the internet and ebooks, but also because books are now much cheaper than they used to be.

“This is about delivering the best library services we possibly can to reflect changing demands within the reduced budget we have available.

“Nationally and locally there aren’t as many people using traditional library services in the same way they once did and we need to continue evolving our own library service to reflect this.

“More people are now accessing digital resources including eBooks on their phones and computers.

“The approach we’re taking reflects the shift in the way people use libraries and the fall in demand at the same time as helping achieving the savings we need to make by 2020.

“I completely understand how Elsie is feeling, this is a very difficult time for the council and for everybody in our city.

“While we’ve had contacts in other parts of the city from groups and possible volunteers, we’ve had not any contact about Bunny Hill.

“If people are interested in helping to run a community library in Bunnyhill then we’d be interested in hearing from them.”

Any community groups who are interested in running their local library building as a community venue, which would also offer books and digital library services, can contact Marie Brett at marie.brett@sunderland.gov.uk