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As King's Lynn swelters in 30-degree heat, library is sanctuary of cool and calm





Washed Up's Sarah Juggins says as we swelter in 30C heat, libraries are sanctuaries of cool and calm and hopes hub will be good for the community.

It would be all too easy to write about heat waves or housing developments or parking issues but for some reason the topic that keeps popping up in my head is the future of our libraries.

I think it is because I read an article the other day that explained how libraries have for so long been safe havens for people seeking temporary refuge – homeless people, recent immigrants, bored teenagers during the summer holidays. Right now, as the country swelters in 30-plus heat, they are also sanctuaries of cool and calm.

King's Lynn library.
King's Lynn library.

Personally I remember my own Friday mornings in the school holidays being spent in the library delightedly choosing the books I would be reading for the next week.

Unfortunately, nay catastrophically, over the past decade almost 800 libraries have closed due to public spending cuts. While the cuts to services such as social care or road maintenance, street cleaning or verge trimming are visible and attract a lot of public attention, the gradual squeezing out of library services has been insidious and near silent.

It’s not just that libraries are a lovely space to while away some time and exchange books; they are a vital part of the nation’s literacy. Low income families rely on public services such as libraries for educational resources and internet access. At the same time, research shows that children who read for pleasure make significantly more progress in maths and English compared to those that do not read. Libraries are key in combatting educational inequalities.

Thankfully some local authorities are being innovative with their libraries and even more thankfully King’s Lynn library is a beneficiary of forward thinking.

In King’s Lynn we are lucky enough to have a beautiful library in the Carnegie Building, and thousands of West Norfolk residents past and present will have enjoyed spending time in the Victorian Gothic styled building that opened in 1905.

Although the Carnegie Building is soon to be closed as a library a new community hub is set to open in the town centre offering traditional library services, a rare book collection, flexible workspaces, adult learning facilities, a cafe, a training kitchen, an exhibition space and a community space for workshops and activities.

The new centre is due to be opened in 2025 and, while it is a shame to say goodbye to the Carnegie Building, a community hub that offers people of all ages a chance to develop their own love of books, reading, culture and creativity can only be a very good thing for the community.



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