Estate's volunteer library proves a big hit

Ruth Wilkinson

Ruth Wilkinson

First published in News by

A VOLUNTEER-RUN libr-ary on an Oxford estate has been hailed as a vital part of the community a year after it opened.

The Read/Swap Library, based in the community centre in Rose Hill, is now regularly used by more than 100 people.

The centre, in The Oval, also acts as a community hub, with residents and groups using it as a place to enjoy a coffee and chat.

The chairman of the trustees, Ruth Wilkinson, said it showed what a community could do when it worked together.

She said: “The past 12 months have been great. We have had a lot of support from the beginning, especially from our older residents. A number of them are wheelchair-bound and it’s a very useful place for them to meet their friends.

“A number of community groups also use the venue as a base for meetings, and the local street wardens regularly pop in to meet people.

“Lots of new people have moved to Rose Hill’s new housing development, and the library is proving a good way for them to meet their neighbours.”

The library was opened in January last year by artist Korky Paul, who read to children from Rose Hill Primary School.

It opens once a week on a Monday, from 2-4.30pm.

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Volunteers were drafted in to sort the books and build shelves in the run-up to the launch, with residents working overtime to get the library finished.

Modern Art Oxford, Demco Interiors and Oxford-based publisher Raintree were among the firms and groups to donate books and cash to the scheme.

Mrs Wilkinson, a city councillor for Headington, said the library now has so many books it “doesn’t know what to do with them”.

She added: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity.

“So many donations are still flooding in from people and companies from all over Oxford.

“We are very thankful to everyone who has donated, but we really don’t need any more at the moment.”

Libraries across the county are currently facing the axe as Oxfordshire County Council looks to make millions of pounds worth of savings.

Mrs Wilkinson said the Read/Swap was not a replacement for centrally-run schemes.

But she added: “It shows what a community can offer when it works together. We often direct people to the nearest library because it will always offer a wider choice than we can.

“But the Read/Swap shows people can offer a book service, if only a small one, if they want to.”

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