Government cuts to community resources appear to be becoming more and more frequent, with their effects including redundancy, and of course the loss of much-loved community social hubs. According to The Guardian, almost 130 public libraries across Britain were closed in 2018 alone. Much like many others, the Archibald Corbett Community Library in Catford, Lewisham was turned from council-funded to volunteer-run in October 2016.

Previously named Torridon Library, the Archibald Corbett Community Library, Arts and Heritage Centre is a fantastic local resource that opens every day of the week with the exception of Wednesdays and Sundays. Not only is it a fully functioning library, but it also works to encourage artistic advancement; for example by hosting children’s arts and crafts sessions, as well as promoting local artists’ work by selling their products, such as cards and paintings. Additionally, the Archibald Corbett Community Library is the venue for associations such as a dementia support group and children’s singing groups. This is made all the more impressive and inspirational whilst remembering that the library is run by volunteers, who willingly give up their time to assist in building a better and more accessible community.

Volunteer-run libraries are becoming increasingly common in the UK. As reported by Public Libraries News, there were about ten libraries staffed by volunteers in the UK in 2010; by 2017, this number had risen to approximately five hundred. In the borough of Lewisham alone, there are ten community-ran libraries. Although libraries similar to the Archibald Corbett Community Library prove that it is entirely possible for them to be run by volunteers, it is not to say that cuts to libraries and other local resources should be an issue that is widely accepted. Budget cuts to libraries inevitably results in a loss of employment, and there is the lingering possibility of a library not cultivating enough committed volunteers to manage it, forcing it to close.

James Beardow, a volunteer at the Archibald Corbett Community Library since 2018, remarked of how he visited the library as a young child, stating that the environment is ‘calming’. Clearly, the people’s attitude is one of protection and loyalty towards our public facilities, preventing the closure of hundreds of libraries across the country and fighting against the seemingly endless government cuts. The Archibald Corbett Community Library is a brilliant example of a community coming together to build and support a social hub that provides countless facilities and activities as well as strengthening the lives of local people.

By Jemima McDuell