Patwell Street, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0EQ
Standing boldly on its corner site at the east end of the High Street, Bruton Library opened just over 100 years ago on 20 July 1914 on the site of the old Wellington Hotel. We owe the Library’s existence to Frances Jane Ward, who was born in the town in 1817 and left £4,000 ‘to provide funding for a Public Library in Bruton’.
After World War II the Library found itself in financial difficulty and eventually, in 1960, the County Council took over the running of it, restocking the books, which were regarded as being ‘of no special literary value’ and ‘being spoiled by damp’.
The Trustees continue to own and manage the building. County pays a peppercorn rent to run a County Library facility from it, and the Library prospered for many years. Recently, with the rapid development of modern technology, reading has suffered and visitor numbers have dropped, although for those without computer access the library computers are a significant asset.
With the recession and the need for County to make substantial cuts to the service, Bruton Library was threatened with closure in 2011. Thanks to our County Councillor, Anna Groskop, more than 20 volunteers came forward and, with the help of the Trustees and the Town Council, a management committee was established. All the threatened libraries were then reprieved (for the present), but the Trustees and management committee remain in close contact with the County Library Service and have built up an excellent relationship, as epitomised by the jointly run centenary celebrations in July 2014.
The Trustees continue to look at the possibility of becoming a Community Library, run by volunteers but supported by County. This would enable us to use the building for other activities and services, which would, we feel, make it more of a focus for the community and encourage more people to make use of both the Library and its facilities. We would need committed volunteers for a very exciting project. In this way, we should still have a library in another 100 years.
Opening times: Tuesday 2pm–5.30pm, Friday 10am–1.30pm and 2.30pm–5.30pm, and Saturday 10am–1pm.
Contact: County Library Service, 0845 345 9177
Management Committee/Trustees: Mike Streatfeild, 01749 813 275