New chapter as Telford community sets up its own little library
With many libraries across Shropshire having closed or had their hours cut, one community has fought back by setting up its own little library using donated books.
"I believe it to be a first for Telford, and possibly Shropshire," said Jean Wright, of the Coke Hearth Improvements Group in Coalbrookdale.
The group, which comprises local residents, swung into action when the mobile library service was withdrawn.
Jean said: "One of our committee suggested a free little library having seen one in Edinburgh.
"The Coke Hearth was a stop off for the mobile library service and was apparently one of its most used stops. That service has been withdrawn so the little library goes some way to replacing it.
"It is sited at the Coke Hearth next to the community centre in an alcove previously housing a phone box. It is on the main road so easily accessed.
"People take one, or several, books. They can return the book or put replacements in. They might not do so, but all books are donated and free.
"Currently I’d say there are about 200 in at present, pretty well all fiction but across many tastes – light, serious, crime, classics, and so on.
"They are all donated and on Facebook people have been asking if they can donate. I don’t think we will have a problem getting more books.
"Have a look at the Coke Hearth Improvements’ Group Facebook page, and I have posted on the Ironbridge Gorge, Ironbridge, Dale-enders pages too – we’ve had really great feedback.
"We have also popped a few children’s books in waterproof bags around the children’s playground next to the Coke Hearth."
The group was formed originally to find ways to give the area, a gateway to the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, a bit of a makeover and make things more pleasant and better for residents.
Jean added: "Our group has been involved in the Government-funded Pocket Parks grant scheme this last year. We applied to improve the Sunniside Playing Fields in Coalbrookdale and receive a grant of over £26,000.
"We were supported, both financially and with advice and encouragement, by the parish council, Telford & Wrekin, and Transition Town Telford.
"We have put in adult gym equipment, new goalposts, benches and picnic tables, an all-purpose track, raised beds and fruit trees and bushes.
"This project has not been the direct remit for our group but when we saw the opportunity to apply for the grant, we decided to give it a try.
"Now we are back to fundraising for the piece of sculpture to commemorate the workers of the now closed Coalbrookdale Company."