Ownership: Private Company Limited by Guarantee
Location: Hanwell Community Library, Cherington Rd, London W7 3HL
Contact information: Chloe, Library Development Worker
firstname.lastname@example.org – 020 8579 2376
Newsletter: HCL-newsletter-Apr-23.pdf (hanwellcommunitylibrary.org.uk)
Setting the Scene
Hanwell Library is a library based in the London Borough of Ealing. It first opened to the public in 1905 meaning they have been serving the community of Hanwell and beyond for the past 118 years! In 2019, Ealing Borough Council passed on the day-to-day running of the Library to Ealing Law Centre- their parent organisation. The Law Centre worked with the local community to set up the library as you see it today.
On 23rd June 2021, the Library opened as a community led initiative, meaning that the day-to-day running and organisation of the Library is completely volunteer-led. They currently have a wonderful team of 75 rota and non-rota volunteers who run the library and lead events.
The effect of Covid-19 & the cost of living crisis
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed their initial opening. When they were eventually able to open, it was a very cautious start. Many people were still weary of socialising in large spaces and a few events took place online instead of in person. Luckily however, as the country has started to open again, people have become more confident with being back in public spaces and were able to welcome over 15,000 people back to the library in 2022. They remain conscious of the cost-of-living crisis and the pressures this places on members of their community.
All events that they run in the library are free, meaning that they are accessible to all members of the community no matter their financial position. They were also aware that people may have been using the library to keep warm over the winter. They put out activities such as board games and colouring for people to be able to use and also have free Wi-Fi. Additionally, their parent organisation Ealing Law Centre, which is linked to the library, provides advice and support on areas such as welfare benefits by appointment.
Plans for 2023 and beyond
One of their aims for 2023 is to increase their opening hours. They are currently open to the public for 27 hours per week, but would like to try and increase this to thirty hours. Another thing that they would like to achieve this year is a craft workshop for adults. Our craft workshops for children have been very popular and they have received a lot of feedback from adults asking if they could run something similar for older age groups.
Finally, they would like to run more evening events, having had photography, poetry and psychology workshops taking place up to now. They would love to be able to not only continue offering these activities but increase the range of evening events on offer across the board.
Hanwell Community Library in Numbers
15K Visitors in 2022
5K Visitors in 2023 (so far)
27 Hours open per week
47 Class visits
521 New members since Jan ’21
What is the standout feature of Hanwell Library?
It is hard to choose one!
One thing that customers love are all of the original features of the library. They are a Carnegie Library (roughly 21 out of the 325 public libraries in London are). They have beautiful high ceilings and lots of original features like the lovely front doors.
Lots of customers have told them that they love coming to the library because it has such a wonderful atmosphere to spend time in. Another more practical feature that helps us stand out, is our link to Ealing Law Centre. Ealing does not have a Citizens Advice service so having the Law Centre next door is vital in helping customers get the support they need.
All events that we run in the library are free, meaning that they are accessible to all members of our community no matter their financial position.
What advice would you give to other Community Libraries?
“Don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new. Really listen to what your community wants. Last year we put out feedback surveys to the local community and our volunteers. The feedback provided a fundamental base for us to understand what we were doing well and what the community would like to see us doing. It really shaped the events that we then decided to arrange for the rest of the year.
Make sure that your library is not only a fun place for the public to come but also for your volunteers, if you are volunteer led. Ensure your volunteers are supported and feel part of your library community- with this in place, it has resulted in us having a wonderful and diverse group of people driving the library forward. We could not do it without them!”