Victorious Manchester campaigners are rejoicing after plans were announced to save Levenshulme Library by working in partnership with a nearby school.
Levenshulme High School are to take over running the facility from Manchester City Council until a new library and leisure centre opens in Spring 2015.
And Jeremy Hoad, chair of the Friends of Levenshulme Library, was delighted at the news and expressed relief that the facility has been saved.
“It’s win, win, win all round,” he told MM. “It means that the library is saved and protected for the next two years until the new library is opened.
“For us in Levenshulme, the school saves money on its existing provisions and gets a better facility.
“We get it protected until the new one opens and potential for uses within the community in the future and the council gets the library.
“It does offer a sense of hope and a positive model that libraries can be saved. It provides everything we wanted, everything we could have hoped for and more for both now and the future.
“Although the circumstances and willingness of schools to do this is a big driver, it does mean that the other campaigns and communities can look to Levenshulme as an example to approach other schools.”
Under the new proposals, the building will continue to operate as a library between 2.30pm and 6.30pm on weekdays and 10am and 1pm on Saturdays.
On weekday mornings, it will be used by the school as an additional learning facility to pupils who find it difficult to access the full school curriculum.
Levenshulme High School headteacher Amanda Thain believes the move will have a beneficial effect to all those concerned in the community.
“Levenshulme High School and its governing body want Levenshulme Library to be a focal point in the community with education and learning as its core values,” she said.
“We are hoping to agree a mutually beneficial package that will keep the library in the community and help the school resolve its existing need for additional space.”
Despite Levenshulme being saved, libraries in Burnage, Fallowfield, Miles Platting, New Moston and Northenden still face uncertain futures.
Campaigners in these areas have until the end of June to put forward proposals to the council, with outreach libraries currently in the pipeline for them.
But the Levenshulme success will free up £87,000 of council funding for the other libraries and a £10,000 cash grant to use in the community.
Though the money will make a small difference to the other libraries plight, Mr Hoad hopes the Levenshulme model provides inspiration to the rest of Manchester.
“It shows that partnerships between schools, communities and the council can resolve some of these differences forced upon us by the funding cuts,” he added.
“Burnage and Northenden in particular have been very powerful in their campaigning against the library closures and the council has responded to that.
“There has been a change of heart in terms of the willingness of the council to engage with communities and a much stronger commitment to find the best possible solutions.
“The threat to libraries is on-going and it is about being imaginative and working in partnership. It can be held up as a beacon of hope that solutions can be found that benefit everybody.”
Councillor Rosa Battle, executive member for culture and leisure, revealed work to save the other libraries is still on-going but is encouraged by the Levenshulme development.
“We have worked very hard, in partnership with the school and the community, to come up with a positive solution for Levenshulme and this is exciting news for everyone,” she said.
“The proposals will ensure that library provision remains in the existing building with a range of added benefits that the school can bring to the whole community.”
Picture courtesy of JanneM, with thanks.