The history of Bilton and Woodfield Community Library Group (BWCLG) started in 2011 when cuts to local government funding caused North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) to propose the closure of Bilton Library. This met with substantial opposition. Several public meetings were organised to try and prevent the closure but to no avail. The Council needed to sell the Old Vicarage, in which the library was housed, and as the NYCC Library Service was not aware of a suitable building to move into it felt that closure was the only option.
However, a local councillor pointed out that the site of Woodfield School on Woodfield Road was to be redeveloped and planning was at an early stage. Would it be possible for space to be allocated for a library? It was possible, but NYCC could not afford to pay for staff or library running costs. The only possibility it would consider was for the community to run the library itself subject to it being able to produce an acceptable business plan. The community felt so strongly about the issue that it decided to have a go.
Public Meetings Held
New site proposed
Fundraising and Paperwork
Community Library opened in The Old Vicarage
Move to Woodfield Road
The early months of 2012 were hectic, raising funds and producing the necessary paper work but, somehow, it happened. What had started out as a pressure group “The Friends of Bilton Library” became a registered charity “Bilton and Woodfield Community Library Group” with the aim of running local library services.
In May 2012 it opened for business in The Old Vicarage, working in partnership with NYCC which supplied the books, IT services and some professional support. The name was chosen to reflect the new location of the library but the move to Woodfield Road did not take place until September 2014.
It took a while for customers and volunteers to become accustomed to the new surroundings but they grew to be just as fond of them as they had been of The Old Vicarage. All seemed to be going well until disaster struck in early January 2017 when a faulty boiler caused a devastating flood closing the library for almost three months. It was a relief when customers returned and said they were pleased to see the library open again.
The path to retaining library services in Bilton has not always run smoothly but thanks to support from the local community and enthusiastic volunteers the future again looks bright.
If you are interested in the history of the library in Bilton prior to it becoming a community library the Bilton Historical Society have published A brief history of the origins of libraries in Bilton which covers many decades.