AFTER years of being threatened with closure because of council budget cuts, the future of Hay-on-Wye Public Library is finally secured – at least for the next five years.
This follows extensive negotiations between Powys County Council and HayPublicLibrary.org, the Community Interest Company (CIC), set up by Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters (HOWLS) in 2019.
The Directors of Hay CIC worked with Cllr Rachel Powell, Powys Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, Culture and Leisure, to draw up a 5 year commercially binding contract that guarantees Hay Library will retain the same opening hours and staffing levels.
“Our first objective was to keep our Library open.” said Mike Eccles – one of the CIC Directors “but we have plans to expand the services and activities available in our Library. During our discussions, it was clear that Cllr Powell shares our vision that libraries are a safe, free space where communities can develop networks and a resilience to face the future.”
Cllr Powell was keen to emphasise the importance of working in partnership with local communities to ensure the future of the library service: “As well as being a community hub, libraries give residents access to other services and benefits, particularly as so much now has to be done on-line. Developing the Library as a One-Stop Shop is crucial in meeting the needs of local residents. It is also integral to the Council’s remit to alleviate isolation and loneliness as well as supporting and engaging with young people.”
“ It has been an absolute pleasure in working closely with HayPublicLibrary.org CIC, to ensure that this much valued resource, continues to grow from strength to strength. This has only been successful due to those members behind it, whose shared vision and willingness to work with the local authority in collaboration, has ensured the future of Hay Library is secured. I really look forward in seeing what develops and how the residents of Hay and surrounding areas will continue to benefit.” Said Cllr Rachel Powell
Hay’s CIC are keen to emphasise the positive vision they have developed while drawing up and negotiating their first 5-year contract with Cllr Powell. “We now have the basis to work positively with Powys CC” said Mike Eccles. “Having had the support of the Hay Festival Foundation in the past we hope to continue to work with them and the wider community to revolutionise the very concept of the Public Library and create a blueprint for others to follow.”