6th November 2015
Levenshulme’s Old Library – Hope of a Rebirth?
This coming Wednesday, there is another crucial meeting to try and determine a stable future for the soon to close Library building on Cromwell Grove. In January 2016 it is expected that its doors will close to the public for the foreseeable future. There is a growing sense of urgency by the LOL (Levenshulme Old Library) Group who are keen to attract more local people to the mission of keeping the building alive for some sort of community use set out in the initial vision
For the past few years it has been a roller coaster journey for the community of Levenshulme and South Gorton who fought a hard campaign to retain the use of the Library building when it was first threatened with closure. It was given an execution of stay by temporary tenants Levenshulme High School and the area was promised a new joint service centre to be built on the main stretch of the A6, thanks to the hundreds of people that helped to be heard.
What Is The Status At Present?
Over the past year a small but dedicated group of volunteers have met up monthly to try and iron out the details of the vision for the building and try to gather as many facts and figures about running costs and maintenance costs as possible whilst establishing logistics of operating a building in year 1.
It has recently been placed on the community transfer list, much like other buildings faced with closure around South Manchester – some of which have or are in the process of being taken over for exciting new ventures.
Good Examples Nearby
A great example of community takeover is Withington Baths which is now run as a charitable organisation and sustaining its building through memberships, employing staff and creating apprenticeships along the way. Another ongoing example is the lovely Stretford Public Hall which was saved from developers and has been taken over by the Friends of Stretford Public Hall in March this year following a campaign and business plan. Volunteer repairs are underway with plans for and arts centre and hireable venue afoot.
These examples show that the power of a community’s buy in is all important to developing a vision for a building. It has to service needs of the area not currently being carved out by other buildings and it has to attract sustainable business if it is to survive. It has to be a destination for the locality and somewhere people want to go in their leisure time.
So this brings us back to the beautiful building that is Levenshulme Library. There is so much potential and the vision outlines the desires of the people who have been involved so far. The next stage is to gather more expertise through local volunteers and potential tenants and groups who can see themselves within the space as it evolves into the arts centre and youth space that is being keenly imagined.
LOL Group Needs You!
Please do get in touch if you are a creative business, organisation or community group in South Manchester who would like to discuss utilising the building in the future. Details can be found on the facebook page. The next meeting will be held the Wednesday, details here