Woodingdean library bucks the trend as it creates community hub

The new Woodingdean Library includes this children's section
The new Woodingdean Library includes this children's section

Building work began in autumn last year, and it was great to see local author Lynne Truss opening the new building.

By some estimates, the United Kingdom is losing hundreds of libraries a year because of government reductions in council funding. This is a huge a blow to the many people who use them as a local community hub.

In this context, it is exciting that we have not only maintained our branch libraries across Brighton and Hove, but also bucked the trend by having just opened a brand new library in Woodingdean.

The old library was a "temporary" cabin - erected in 1959 - that was in desperate need of a modern replacement. We had seen visits steadily increasing over the last few years, with about 26,000 items borrowed every year.

Building work began in autumn last year, and it was great to see local author Lynne Truss opening the new building.

Woodingdean’s new library will have longer opening hours, and offer bigger, better, and more accessible facilities. It is almost double the size of the previous one and features a computer suite, a small meeting room, and an out-of-hours entrance. The library also has a new medical centre attached, making it a true community hub.

Gone are the days of libraries just providing a great range of free books for children and adults to read - vital though that is.

Libraries nowadays often offer information about local services, study and homework support, classes, play areas, and community meeting space.

Importantly, libraries also have computer facilities and free internet access for the quarter of people who do not have it at home. This is particularly crucial at a time when many are experiencing financial hardship - and when the only way to access the government’s welfare system is via the internet.

Everyone knows it is a very difficult time for councils as our funding continually dwindles. But by working with others - such as the NHS, as we did with Woodingdean Library - we are able to build long-awaited new facilities for our communities.