A community library visited by more than 20,000 people last year is working to spread the word about what is on offer to encourage more supporters and volunteers.

Bedale Library was taken over by the community in 2017 as part of a major shake up of services in North Yorkshire which left volunteers in charge of services in many towns.

The group set up the Friends of Bedale Community Library to help raise funds, and so far has collected more than £23,000 to help support the library. New members are invited and friends are asked to make a donation of £15.

On Monday, June 3 a tea party is being held to thank not only the friends, but also the volunteers who give their time freely to keep the service going.

“Bedale Library is an absolutely marvellous community service for the town," said new volunteer Jenny Barrie, who has taken over as membership secretary and treasurer of the Friends, and is also a trustee of the library.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Trustees of Bedale Community Library

Jenny, 71, a retired professional musician and arts co-ordinator, moved to North Yorkshire from Norfolk two years ago and was so impressed with the library she offered to help.

“I knew I wanted to do some voluntary work and having made connection with the community library, they do such an amazing job and have worked so hard since 2017, that I thought I may be able to assist in some way," she said.

“There are 33 volunteers who undertake two or three shifts a month, for three hours at a time. We have a WhatsApp group, and a regular monthly newsletter for the volunteers, in which they are frequently asked for their opinions and advice.

“The library is a very welcoming space. Everyone is greeted when they come in, and because we always have two volunteers on duty, there is time for any queries or thoughts from our customers.

“We want to spread the word to invite more people to visit the library to see what is happening and to join the Friends of Bedale Library to support it. This is such an important service for the town.”

Although the library is supported by North Yorkshire Council, the group still has to pay for rent, insurance and utilities, and in common with many similar organisations, is feeling the pinch. 

A successful tea party was held last September to say goodbye and thank you to chair of the friends Susan Perkins and fellow trustee Alan Shinkfield and it was decided it would be made an annual event.

A further event is being planned later in the year with Rosie Page, daughter of renowned James Herriot author Alf Wight, to raise money for both Bedale Community Library and Herriot Hospice. Friends of the library will have free admission to this, as for previous events, and tickets will also be on sale for others.

“It will be wonderful to see everyone on June 3, there is a lot of support for the community library and we want to ensure this hugely valuable place carries on helping and supporting the people of the Bedale area,” added Jenny.

For information about the library and the friends see https://www.bedalecommunitylibrary.org.uk.