New temporary library for Ulverston nears completion

An expanded temporary library facility for Ulverston is nearing completion in The Coro.

The large Supper Room is being turned into a bright, welcoming and comfortable library space, able to house many more books and facilities.

The existing temporary pop-up arrangements in the Ante Room in The Coro and in the nearby Indoor Market Hall will be transferring to the Supper Room, creating a single location for the temporary library, which service users have said they would prefer to the current split sites.

The Market Hall will continue to be used as a meeting space for groups – including the young people’s chess club and an advice and support group for Ukrainian refugees – whose members have indicated they would like to stay in the market for now. The council is also discussing with the Repair Café group about using the Market Hall units for their activities, including providing repair services for clothing and small electrical items.

The Supper Room will house a far more extensive, bright and colourful children’s library area than was possible in the Market Hall pop-up, as well as a significantly enhanced range of books to borrow, IT facilities and access to library staff for support and advice.

The Supper Room will have shelving and furniture that is fully flexible and can be moved to create a multi-functional space so the room is still available for event hires if required.

The temporary library in the Supper Room is currently scheduled to open week commencing 25 March, to allow repairs and servicing of the lift to be completed to ensure the new library facility is easily accessible to all users.

The Ulverston Library building on King’s Road is currently not safe to be used due to the discovery of issues with the building’s electrics during routine statutory checks.

To reinstate a library offer as soon as possible, a temporary ‘pop-up’ offering a limited library service was opened in the Ante Room at The Coro and a second phase expanded the temporary provision to Ulverston Market Hall at the end of last year.

This latest phase, to move to a larger single site in the Supper Room in The Coro, has been made possible after the management of The Coro reverted to the council on 1 January 2024.

This also means the council has been able to extend the temporary library opening hours in line with the previous library provision, including opening at weekends, and the council has been able to work with more community groups about them using space in The Coro. Having an expanded temporary library in the Supper Room also now means reading groups and other clubs associated with the library can be reinstated, while the library space can be used to host activities that complement events in the main hall, such as happened this week when children attending the eco-fair at The Coro were able to take part in workshops held in the new children’s library area in the Supper Room.

The inclusion of the temporary library at The Coro and the extended opening hours has already seen a noticeable and very welcome increase in footfall in the building, with people visiting the library and enquiring about everything from performances and tickets for Coro events to bus timetables and bus pass information.

Due to the number of customer enquires being received at The Coro now, the council is working with customer service teams to ensure customers can be supported with information and advice about other council services.

The council is currently undertaking a detailed appraisal to look at all the different options for reinstating a permanent library service in Ulverston. The appraisal is considering how to best deliver library services going forward, to ensure they are accessible, modern and ‘fit for the future’ and options will be subject to public engagement before any final decisions are made.

The appraisal work includes looking at how much it would cost to re-open and upgrade the King’s Road building, whether there are other premises in town that could accommodate the library or whether co-locating the service in shared premises, such as a more permanent solution at The Coro, would offer the best long-term solution.

Councillor Peter Thornton, Cabinet member for Assets and Highways, said: “Which ever option is eventually chosen, it will involve significant cost, with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds of public money needing to be invested. We therefore need to make sure we get this right.

“We know that the King’s Road building, which is now more than 60 years old, would require considerable investment to make it fit-for-purpose, with not only the electrics but the heating system and fabric of the building requiring significant attention. That level of work doesn’t come cheap and it’s incorrect for people to suggest we only need to spend a few thousand pounds to ‘patch-up’ the electrics.

“There is simply no quick-fix solution that would provide a safe, sustainable service in that current building for our customers and staff. It requires wholesale investment and when we are considering spending such large amounts of public money we are obliged to think about things carefully, look at all of our options and have the evidence to support our decisions.

“This is especially important in the current climate, where public finances are very tight and so many councils are struggling, and we make no apologies for considering and balancing our options to ensure we invest wisely and in the best long-term interests of our communities.’’

Councillor Virginia Taylor, Cabinet member for Sustainable Communities and Localities, said: “Ulverston has one of our most important library services with a thriving membership and footfall. I am really disappointed that the current building is judged unsafe because obviously people are used to that building being the location for the library.

“We are absolutely not looking to close or diminish the library service in Ulverston. Indeed, we are exploring options that will enable us to look at ways to grow the library service in Ulverston.

“Libraries nowadays are multi-faceted places – for education, the community, the arts, for voluntary groups, and indeed for the council to have informal people-focused meetings – and for families especially to find support and advice. We’re improving the temporary service all the time – and the new facilities in The Coro will provide the warm welcome and the opportunities for children that used to be in the King’s Road building.

“The options on the table include costing what would be necessary to renovate the King’s Road building, and what investment would be required to deliver an extended library service in alternative locations.

“The council has to consider what’s the best way to meet the community’s needs now and in the future. We are assessing investment in The Coro, potentially to provide a new permanent home for the library but also to extend and improve the facilities at the Coro, adding to the sustainability of that really crucial Ulverston cultural institution.

“Everyone cares about the future of library provision in Ulverston and we understand people’s frustrations that it’s taking time to assess all the options, but it is important that we do this in a careful, considered and evidenced way. The community will have a chance to look at the proposals before we commit to such an important decision.

“We are confident that once we have completed our options appraisal work, hopefully within the next couple of months, we will have some exciting ideas to share. We have been in contact with the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to inform them of the situation and they have indicated they are supportive and comfortable with our approach.

“As the library is a statutory function, we’re required to consult on any changes, including any relocation of the library, so I’d like to repeat our reassurance that the local community will have the opportunity to comment on proposals once they are fully developed.“

For more detailed information on the background to the closure of the King’s Road Library and the council’s approach to the future of library services in Ulverston, see our Ulverston Library Questions and Answers page. 

 


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