The Town Council is investing £75K over 5 years to retain the library in its current location, increase its opening hours and staffing resource, as well as undergo a significant refurbishment.
Following from the public campaign led by the Friends of Shepton Mallet Library Group to keep the library on the Market Place, the Town Council has agreed to make a significant financial contribution to support these plans. The Town Council will grant £15K a year over five years as part of its wider commitment to invest in the town laid out in the Town Plan ‘Investing in Shepton’s Future 2020-2024‘. The funding will be given to Somerset County Council’s Library Services to contribute towards running costs and in particular, increased opening hours and staffing resource. The project has also received funding from the Glastonbury Festival co-creator, Michael Eavis.
In Spring 2021, Shepton Mallet Library will close for a period of approximately 8-12 weeks to allow for a significant refurbishment of the library. This will involve new furniture, enhanced children’s and young person’s areas, as well as versatile shelving which will allow the rooms to be reconfigured for events.
Once the library reopens after the works, opening hours will increase by over 8 hours a week. This will mean an earlier opening and later closure on most days and the library remaining open over the lunch hour. Moreover, the library will be operated by two members of staff at most times (except over the lunch hour) which means greater resource for outreach activities and events.
Importantly, the library will enter into a new partnership with the 7 Starlings community group (website coming soon) who will be promoting use of the library during evenings, weekends and outside regular opening hours during the week. The hope is to develop the library as a ‘community hub’ with events and activities for a wide range of people within the local community. The Town Council has elected Councillor Sharon Hale to act as a representative with the 7 Starlings and will continue to work with the group to support it in its aims.