The traditional image of a local library may involve shelves stacked with books, but in Filey the town’s branch has evolved into a community hub which provides far more than just reading material.
Books will always be a central feature, of course, but visitors have a catalogue of reasons to turn up – and that may explain why hundreds of people pass through its doors each week, sometimes approaching 1,000, even though it is still in the process of re-establishing itself after pandemic lockdowns.
Those who visit may be as likely to be joining a ‘knit and natter’ session, reading group or writers’ club as to be simply picking up a book.
In the age of the internet, digital communications have not been overlooked either, with computers available and recently re-introduced ‘IT Buddies’, volunteers with knowledge who help users learn to get the most from the internet and to help with jobs like bus pass and blue badge applications.
Those IT Buddies are part of the team of around 25 volunteers who work together to help make the library the community focal point it has become.
It is a ‘hybrid’ library, with two part-time library supervisors employed by the county council working in conjunction with the team of volunteers.
While the demand from the community is undoubtedly there, the secret of library’s success perhaps rests with its volunteers, as outreach librarian Angela Kale explained: “Everyone gets a warm welcome here and is treated like a VIP, that is our standard.
“We have an amazing group of volunteers. They do a fantastic job,” she said.
While the library and its services may still be in a ‘green shoots’ stage as activities increase following lockdowns, the reality is it never really closed.
While conventional visits were not allowed, volunteers organised book deliveries and collections, allowing users to keep a stock of fresh reading material and parents to access titles their children needed for home learning.
What had been face-to-face story time sessions, run by volunteer Robert, for children went online and found a new audience, with people logging in from many thousands of miles away.
While a few may be disappointed the sessions have gone back to traditional meetings, it provides a reason for children and families to physically visit the library, which is of huge benefit to their own well-being and a help in reducing social isolation.
Filey library, and others in the county, continue to have Covid precautions in place to ensire they are safe places to visit.