New temporary library for Ulverston opens in The Coro

The children's library area in the new temporary library, with shelving for a wide range of books and tables and chairs for activities

An expanded temporary library facility for Ulverston has opened today (25 March) in The Coro.

The large Supper Room has been turned into a bright, welcoming and comfortable library space, able to house many more books and facilities.

The previous temporary pop-up library arrangements in the Ante Room in The Coro and in the nearby Indoor Market Hall have all been transferred to the Supper Room, creating a single location for the temporary library, which service users have said they would prefer to the former split sites.

The Supper Room has a significantly enhanced range of books to borrow and now houses 80% of Ulverston’s ‘active’ library stock (that is the books most borrowed by customers), a bright and colourful children’s library area that accommodates all Ulverston’s stock of children’s books, as well as public access PCs, an informal seating area and coffee machine and access to library staff for support and advice.

The Coro’s lift - which is Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant - has been fully repaired and serviced to make the first floor of The Coro, for the main hall balcony and Supper Room, accessible to users who may find the stairs difficult.

Further flexible work spaces are also being created on the ground floor of The Coro for home working/study.

The Market Hall units will continue to be used as a meeting space for community groups - including the young people’s chess club and an advice and support group for Ukrainian refugees - whose members have indicated they would like to stay in the market for now. The council is also discussing with the Repair Café group about using the Market Hall units for their activities, including providing repair services for clothing and small electrical items.

The Ante Room in The Coro will revert to being a flexible meeting/hire space, while the Supper Room itself has shelving and furniture that is fully flexible and can be moved to create a multi-functional space, so the room is still available for hires and activities connected to the occasional larger events and festivals that use multiple rooms at the venue.

This latest improvement to the temporary library facilities and the move to the larger single site in the Supper Room, has been made possible after the management of The Coro reverted to the council on 1 January 2024.

This also means the council has been able to extend the temporary library opening hours in line with the previous library provision, including opening at weekends, and the council has been able to work with more community groups about them using space in The Coro.

Having an expanded temporary library in the Supper Room also now means reading groups and other clubs associated with the library can be reinstated, while the library space itself can be used to host activities and events, some that link with events in the main hall.

Mari Pearce, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Interim Libraries and Archives Manager, said: “The Ulverston Library staff have worked incredibly hard to get this much larger and more comprehensive temporary library up and running in the Supper Room.

“It now offers almost all of our stock of the most popular titles for borrowing, a full children’s library section that is really colourful and welcoming and even has nice seating areas and a coffee machine.

“The Supper Room already has some public access PCs and we are now looking to extend the work spaces in The Coro with more desks on the ground floor for home working or study.

“Library and Coro staff will be on hand to provide a warm welcome to new and existing customers. We’re here to assist with customers’ needs and questions and we’d love to welcome people to come and take a look at the new temporary library facilities, grab a coffee and have a chat to our team.’’

The council is currently undertaking a detailed appraisal to look at all the different options for reinstating a permanent library service in Ulverston. The appraisal is considering how to best deliver library services going forward, to ensure they are accessible, modern and ‘fit for the future’ and options will be subject to public engagement before any final decisions are made.

As the library is a statutory function, the council is required to consult on any changes, including any permanent relocation of the library, so the local community will have the opportunity to comment on proposals once they are fully developed.

For more detailed information on the background to the Ulverston Library closure and next steps, see Ulverston Library - your questions answered