Rawdon Community Library has celebrated a decade of independence.

In 2011, the library was earmarked for closure by Leeds City Council, along with 11 other libraries run by the local authority.

Following a successful campaign to take over the running of the facility, Rawdon re-opened as a community library run by volunteers.

A special event was held last week to mark the 10 years since the library came into the community hands in August 2013.

The library’s “birthday party” was attended by Ilkley-based writer Neil Hanson, author of 70 or so books including the Inn at the Top, who entertained with memories of his time as landlord of the Tan Hill Inn in Swaledale, the highest pub in Great Britain.

Wharfedale Observer: The 10th anniversary cake being cut by Carolyn Speare, librarianThe 10th anniversary cake being cut by Carolyn Speare, librarian (Image: submitted)

When the closure of the library was announced in 2011, a steering group which included Carolyn Speare, Richard Taylor, Anne Ingham and Clive Woods of Aireborough Civic Society, and supported by local councillors and a host of volunteers led by Marge Black, was set up to save the facility.

Together they gathered 85 signatures from those willing to be involved, produced the required business plan and secured pledges for the £20,000 funding needed for the library to be granted its lease.

At the event last week, tributes were paid to the many friends of the library who helped assure its future, including Ilkley businessman and former councillor Graham Smith and to Dr John Crowther of Menston who also remains a major sponsor despite having since emigrated to Philadelphia.

Among those who joined many of the original steering group and volunteers for the celebrations were Bev Rice and Kathy Flood of Leeds Libraries who had also played an important role in the library’s transition to the community.

Since the lease was acquired in August 2013 the library has attracted even more friends and now boasts more than 60 volunteers.

Having overcome the biggest hurdle, Rawdon Community Library has since faced other challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as continued ongoing social changes as other sources of entertainment vye for our leisure time.

Wharfedale Observer: An anniversary balloon display by volunteer Jessica WongAn anniversary balloon display by volunteer Jessica Wong (Image: submitted)

Former library assistant from 1962 until 2004, Christine Roberts, recalled how people would queue up at the library doors on Friday evenings eager to exchange last week’s books for the next week’s supply.

One of the volunteers, Louise Gardner, said: “The Library continues to meet its challenges by hosting a wide range of community activities including book and bridge clubs, interest groups, sewing bees and coffee mornings.

“It also offers a warm space in the winter, organises collections for local food banks and this year will host its first ‘Home Alone’ Christmas lunch. As well as a large collection of books which includes children’s literature, the library is also the home for the local history collection. At its heart however remains the core focus on books and literacy which are key to the lease under which it operates.”

Rawdon Community Library welcomes new members, volunteers and sponsors. For more information please visit www.rawdoncommunitylibrary.co.uk