Rescued library now expanding

It is the library that would not be closed, not by the council that ran it and not even by floods.And at the weekend Bradwell library, near Yarmouth, opened a new extension and celebrated the fact that it has gone from strength to strength.

It is the library that would not be closed, not by the council that ran it and not even by floods.

And at the weekend Bradwell library, near Yarmouth, opened a new extension and celebrated the fact that it has gone from strength to strength.

It is a remarkable triumph for a community facility that could easily not exist at all, after Norfolk County Council decided in 2003 to close it to save money. But luckily the council did not own the building, and after a determined fundraising effort, helped by an EDP Books for Bradwell campaign, it reopened with books donated from across Norfolk and Suffolk and a staff of volunteers.

As borrower numbers grew and there were more books than could fit on the shelves, work started on an extension, built by the family of local builder Malcolm King, who died in 1996, as a memorial to him.

Last September it did look as though fate was against the library when it was badly hit by flooding. It was the worst hit building in the village, with water a foot deep inside. The bottom shelves were ruined and 5,000 books had to be thrown out. But even then it only closed for a day, and borrowers returned while the carpets were still soggy. It also meant the opening of the extension had to be postponed, but on Saturday it finally happened.

Pam King, Mr King's widow, was there to cut the ribbon, and was presented with a bouquet and memorial plate in thanks for the village. And around 50 villagers turned up to see it and to admire the new room, entrance porch, store room and disabled toilet.

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Rev Ron Tuck, chairman of the reading room trustees, said: “Bradwell has been called the library that wouldn't die. Not only has it not died, it has grown. We are very grateful for the extension, it means we can do other things in the library as well, like more IT training.

“This library means that people don't have to travel to Gorleston, which is difficult for the elderly, and parking there is nigh on impossible.”

Computer sessions have been extended from two mornings a week to four or five, and the extension can hold more than 3,000 extra books. Mr Tuck said that people had rallied round after the flooding to donate more books and local people had come in to help clear up.

Mrs King, 73, who was too emotional to give a speech as she cut the ribbon, said afterwards: “I think it is lovely. We are thrilled. My husband was a lovely man and this is a wonderful memorial.”