Keith Knight, the Chairman of Trustees of the Hungerford Library & Community Trust, looks back on the achievements of the first 12 months at the Hungerford Hub.
Friday 7 September 2019 marks the first anniversary of the Hungerford Hub opening its doors for business.
On that day the Hungerford Library & Community Trust volunteers (or Hubbers) took over the running of the building from West Berkshire Council (WBC) co-operating with Hungerford Town Council (HTC). The cornerstone of this new arrangement was WBC granting HTC a 99-year lease on the building to maintain it for use as a community hub and library service (operated by WBC) for all the residents of Hungerford and the surrounding area.
Figures obtained from WBC show that in the second quarter (April-June) of 2019 library visitors have soared by 19% compared with the previous year and book loans increased by 8%. This reversed trends that had seen usage falling in previous years.
Hub bookings and revenues are higher than expected, partly thanks to the grants from HTC and The Good Exchange as well as the sponsor a brick initiative and other fundraising events. However, the costs of running the building are also higher: but, despite this, an operating surplus was made in its first year.
During the year the Hub has seen wide range of events such as author signings, harp lessons and regular language classes and the aim is that the range and number of these will continue to expand.
The Hub has also invested in providing a new kitchen facility (thanks to a Tesco grant via its blue tokens scheme) and purchased 40 new chairs and new book racking. This has enabled the Hub to now be used for events with a capacity of up to 100 (55 seated), so further boosting income.
The development of TheCurve, a front meeting room in the Hub as an exhibition space, has given local artists a platform to show their work to the town and its visitors. The first exhibition was held in TheCurve last December and immediately proved successful, both in terms of revenue and visitor numbers. This was followed by TheCurve’s first pop-up shop selling items made by local crafters. Both events demonstrated the flexibility and potential of what had been an under-used space. In between exhibitions and pop-ups, TheCurvecontinues to be used as an office for Citizens Advice and the town council, as well as being hired for workshops or just a private working space in the centre of town. For those who are interested, room hire starts at £15 for three hours; weekend hire (all day Friday-Sunday) is £80. The main library area prices start from £15 per hour.
Hungerford Hub can be hired most evenings and Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. For bookings please contact Andrea our Hub Manager on 07512 076150
Volunteers are always required. If you’re interested please contact Andrea on the number above. Click here for a brief post from one library volunteer (describing the period before the Hub was set up).
The success of the the Hub in its first year has in many ways exceeded our expectations and vindicated all the work which was required to establish it. A few years ago, the library was set to close altogether; now not only has the library survived and thrived but the building itself has been converted to a town-administered asset that is used for an increasingly wide range of events and activities. We look forward to the future with considerable confidence.