Volunteers bring closed Sunderland library back to life

Fulwell Library.
Fulwell Library.
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People power has ensured a fresh chapter for a Sunderland library.

Fulwell Library, in Dene Lane, has been reinvented as Fulwell Community Library after a community interest company was formed with the help of 92 volunteers.

Coun Margaret Beck.

Coun Margaret Beck.

Sunderland City Council ceased its library provision in Fulwell in May, alongside libraries at Bunnyhill, Ryhope, Sandhill, Kayll Road, Hetton and Washington Millennium Centre.

The long-running saga of library reorganisation has been rumbling for some time with a number of libraries closing due to funding cuts.

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

Now, just over two months after Fulwell Library closed its doors in its previous guise, it has been reopened thanks to the hard work of numerous volunteers.

It’s the heart of the village and has been for years

Coun Maragret Beck, Fulwell Ward

Fulwell ward councillor Margaret Beck said her husband Richard has been heavily involved in setting up the community interest company which saved the facility.

She said: “When we heard the council was going to close the library I came home and I talked to my husband about it. We decided we were going to save it.

“My husband has been absolutely fantastic – he’s done everything.”

The library opened yesterday after volunteers redecorated and tidied up the premises, which sports a community café and a room for hire, as well as the same books and computers as before.

Coun Beck said a number of people have already been through the doors and added that book lending will work on an honesty system, with old-fashioned stamps. A number of activities are also planned once the volunteers have found their feet.

She added: “It’s the heart of the village and has been for years.”

The official opening takes place at 10.30am on Saturday, by Sunderland Mayor, Coun Doris McKnight.

Fulwell Community Library is open on Monday from 9am to noon; Wednesday and Friday from 12.30pm to 5.30pm; and Saturday 10am to noon.