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‘A lightbulb moment’ - Seamstress launches lockdown library to stoke community spirit

Candy Daniels with her community library with free books at Cawston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Candy Daniels with her community library with free books at Cawston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

It started out as a battered and dog-chewed unit, but little did anyone know it was destined to be a community landmark - and its revival would be down to one north Norfolk village resident.

Candy Daniels with her community library with free books at Cawston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCandy Daniels with her community library with free books at Cawston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Candy Daniels, 52, of Stocks Loke, Cawston, saw the potential in transforming an old piece of furniture into a library for the whole village to enjoy completely by chance.

The proud dog owner and animal lover said: “Our wonderful church in Cawston runs a weekly book and jigsaw swap but sadly, due to the current Covid issue, this has been forced to temporarily stop, which is a real shame.

“I know people loved to visit but couldn’t any longer, so an outside library seemed the perfect answer.”

Mrs Daniels also runs a successful Etsy store - a global marketplace for creative goods - where she sells a number of sewing products and it was while she was looking for items to add to her inventory, she came across a photograph online of a “cute, little book library” overseas in America.

Candy Daniels with her community library with free books at Cawston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCandy Daniels with her community library with free books at Cawston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

She added: “This project was a bit of a lightbulb moment and wasn’t planned at all. I just had this idea ping into my head and ran with it.

“I also needed to keep focused at the time as currently my mental health is not as it should be, so I wanted something different to challenge myself with.”

The community library phenomenon has seen an increase in the UK in recent years following the decision to decommission a number of red phone boxes.

The coronavirus pandemic has also lead to a rise in them as people think of new ways to instil a sense of community in their local towns and villages.

Mrs Daniels already had most of the supplies she needed in stock to put the unit, in Stocks Loke, together.

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“I had the unit already so the bones, if you like, were there,” she said. “It was very battered and chewed by my dogs but the structure was sound. I just added doors, some fancy trims and a paint job that would appeal to all.”

She added: “This project has been made with things I already had or had saved from landfill. I did have to buy the little catches though, but I’m super pleased its been a reuse and recycle project.

“I’m looking forward to people coming and having a peruse of the wonderfull array of books on offer. It’s open to all and free. People can take a couple or leave a couple - it’s up to them.

“I’m just so delighted that this project was achieved with 99pc of things that would of gone into landfill - it’s an entirely rescued and reused project.

“I have to admit, I did feel rather pleased with the end results - a kind of warm feeling inside. I was shattered, but in a good way.”

Within an hour of it opening, Mrs Daniels said she already had one person come to look at the books which gave her “the biggest grin”.

“We must have over 45 to 50 books donated already, to cater for all ages and all tastes. We’ve even got Dandy and Beano comics too.

“The books change all the time, so you will never know what delights you will find each time you visit.

“The community has been wonderfully supportive. We have a really lovely community spirit in Cawston and everyone is so supportive of each other.”

Friend, Ian Potter, created the graphics for the unit.

The community library has also been installed with a track and trace QR code poster and a side panel for people to leave up to three of their business cards.

Mrs Daniels also supports and volunteers for Reepham-based charity Scrapbox, which takes in surplus craft supplies and more, and sells back to its members.


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