Group are bring­ing li­brary back to life

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

LESS than two years ago the peo­ple of Rum­ney faced los­ing their li­brary due to coun­cil cuts.

And when Cardiff coun­cil pro­posed cut­ting fund­ing from li­braries across the city, cam­paigns sprang up.

One of the most vo­cal groups was Com­mu­nity Ac­tion for Rum­ney Li­brary (CARL).

While the Labour-run coun­cil backed down on their hugely con­tro­ver­sial plans, there were still wor­ries about pre­serv­ing li­brary pro­vi­sion.

In sum­mer 2015, the coun­cil be­gan work on a new hub. But the cam­paign­ers from CARL were adamant they wanted their build­ing to re­main open.

Along with Rum­ney Fo­rum, they asked peo­ple what they wanted to see, with the most com­monly sug­gested items be­ing a com­mu­nity space and cof­fee shop.

A pro­posal to buy the build­ing from Cardiff coun­cil was sub­mit­ted, with the plan be­ing an ac­ces­si­ble com­mu­nity space for ev­ery­one.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers went on a course to learn the skills nec­es­sary to go ahead with their plans, while vol­un­teers from Rum­ney Chapel have also been key.

Lo­cal butcher Lee Evans bought the build­ing from the coun­cil, and the group signed a 99-year pep­per­corn lease in Novem­ber.

Mr Evans said: “I used Rum­ney Li­brary when I was at school and so did my daugh­ter Katie and her friends. I have watched our com­mu­nity use the build­ing for over 30 years. When I heard that Cardiff coun­cil was sell­ing the build­ing I wanted to make sure that the build­ing re­mained as a com­mu­nity as­set.

“I was con­cerned about what might hap­pen if a prop­erty de­vel­oper bought the build­ing. I am a mem­ber of Rum­ney Fo­rum and knew that they had worked hard to re­tain some li­brary ser­vices in Rum­ney and they had a dream to cre­ate a com­mu­nity re­source in Rum­ney that ev­ery­one in Rum­ney and the wider area of east Cardiff could use.

“We worked to­gether, and with Cardiff coun­cil, to en­able me to buy the build­ing and award Rum­ney Fo­rum a very long lease on the ground floor. Now the work re­ally be­gins.”

In­side will be Wales’ first Li­brary of Things – where peo­ple bor­row items in­stead of books – as well as a book li­brary, cof­fee shop, play area for un­der-fives and rooms for hire.

The gen­eros­ity has con­tin­ued, with Will­mott Dixon agree­ing to carry out free build­ing work.

The vol­un­teers want to open a cafe us­ing food that would oth­er­wise end up in land­fill, but their next chal­lenge is to find some­one to fit their kitchen.

Lo­cal mum Becky Har­ford is one of the trustees. She said: “There is a lot to do and we need to raise a lot of money but we are con­fi­dent we can do it. We keep on say­ing it’s a marathon not a sprint. This is such a per­sonal jour­ney for me. I be­came chair of CARL be­cause when I moved to Rum­ney my per­sonal cir­cum­stances changed from be­ing rel­a­tively com­fort­able to to­tally poor, and the only free place I could go to was the li­brary.

“When I heard that they were clos­ing it I knew I had to get in­volved to try and stop it. I never dreamed from that start I would be a found­ing trustee of Rum­ney Fo­rum and hav­ing signed a 99-year lease on the build­ing. It’s lifechang­ing and so ex­cit­ing”.

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