Friday 24, February 2012
Salford working class library in survival battle
AN HISTORIC Salford library faces a fight for survival after its council funding was slashed by a third.
Visitor numbers have soared at the
Working Class Movement Library on Salford Crescent since it was refurbished
using a £313,000 Lottery grant.
But bosses now need to raise £80,000 to maintain the site after Salford Council told them this week they would face cuts.
Library manager Lynette Cawthra admitted the cash was needed to "keep them going."
She said: “We are considerably busier than we were before the lottery project, so to keep somebody here to answer the doorbell – that’s what the money will be for. It really is key for our future.”
The 25-year-old library has seen a five-fold increase in visitors following a three year cash injection from the Lottery Heritage Trust.
The grant enabled the base, run by more than 50 volunteers, to create an online catalogue of the collection and to refurbish the reception area, but ended in May 2011.
The library, which Labour politician Tony Benn once described as "one of the greatest educational institutions in Britain", contains books, pamphlets and artefacts dating back to the 1760s.
They document the political struggles of the working classes, from the Luddite movement to modern trade union battles.
The library is in line for a publicity boost as it is among three finalists in the national Connect10 competition that could see award-winning British photographer Simon Roberts use it as the centre-piece for a new project.
The competition, run by government-sponsored website Culture24 as part of its Museums at Night initiative, is aimed at connecting contemporary artists with galleries, museums and heritage sites in the UK. The winner is decided after a public vote, which is open until the 5th March – you can vote here.
Mrs Cawthra believes winning the competition will attract more donors.
She said: “We’re a really small organisation and we don’t have the capacity to organise things like this unless we have some support.
“Our funding is largely from individuals who are friends of the library and from trade unions who support us, but obviously we need to spread it out beyond the immediate supporters.”
The library was launched in the 1950s as the personal collection of Salford activists Eddie and Ruth Frow. Their collection gradually increased and in 1987, Salford Council agreed to house the library in its current location in Victorian building Jubilee House.
by Jack Davenport
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