Statement from the Arts Partnership for Fylde on behalf of the Lytham Library Working Group
Unlike the other Fylde libraries under threat of closure, who enjoy strong support from established Friends groups, Lytham Library has been operating without a Friends group to support it for some years.
When the Arts Partnership for Fylde learnt that Lytham could not only potentially lose its library service, but also the use of the building as a community space altogether, we put a working group together to look at how the both the building could be saved and the library retained. The group, which includes representatives from Lytham Heritage Group, Lytham St. Annes Civic Society, Lytham based arts organisation, Fable Arts, interested residents and businesses, as well as Cllr Ray Thomas from Fylde Borough Council and Cllr Tim Ashton, Lancashire County Council’s representative for Lytham St. Annes, worked together to establish the best way forward.
We considered every physical and financial option, including whether it was possible to retain the building for community use, but relocate the library elsewhere in the town. However, early on in our discussions, we realised that many residents didn’t know that the building was also under threat, so we decided to hold a public consultation to alert them to the potential of a double loss to their high street and to ask them whether they used the building and what services and activities might they want to access from the building in the future if we were able to retain it as a community space.
The consultation was called Library Hack and was led by two Fylde based artists, who set up an outdoor typing pool at Lytham Club Day in June and in Lytham Square in July to encourage the public to share and record their opinions, thoughts and ideas about the Lytham Library building on old typewriters.
The feedback was unstinting and irrefutable. The public wanted to retain the library and for it to remain in the building it is currently housed in. However, they also wanted access to a more modern facility which provided a broader, cultural offer in a non-judgemental, accessible space in which every member of the community, young or old, felt safe and welcomed. Without exception, every person consulted welcomed and understood that in order for this community offer to be realised within the existing building, it would need to be supported by some sort of commercial offer.
Based on the public’s feedback we submitted a proposal to Lancashire County Council to transfer Lytham Library to independent status and redevelop the building as a mixed space facility featuring a community managed self-service library, a collaborative space for intellectual growth, community outreach and creative pursuits supported by a relevant commercial / retail offer.
Lancashire County Council will inform us of the outcome of our proposal at the end of October.
Read more about the Library Hack public consutltation events.