Springbourne Library


Based in the heart of Springbourne, on the north side of Holdenhurst Road, between Malmesbury Park Place and Shelbourne Place, the library is much loved and well used by local residents. It is the base for homework clubs, coffee mornings and the dissemination of local information. On 8th April 2006, the old store room which had been closed to the public for many years was finally opened by the Mayor of Bournemouth as a refurbished Community room, available for hire by community and business groups. See the section on the Community room for pictures and  details of this valuable community asset.

Officially opened on 27th March 1909 , the library came about through the benefice of that famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In 1903 Mr. Carnegie offered 10,000 for the building of four libraries within the County Borough of Bournemouth's jurisdiction. The first of Mr. Carnegie's libraries was built in Winton and opened on 26th October 1907. The second to be opened  was Springbourne, in 1909. The third and fourth, in Boscombe and Westbourne, were opened within the next couple of years.

Twice the library has been under threat of closure. The first time was in 1988 when the Dorset County Council decided that because usage  was deemed low, therefore making running costs high, it, along with about four other libraries in the County should be closed allowing the money saved to be put into the fund for purchasing new books for the other libraries in the area.

Local residents immediately started a campaign to save it. They formed a Readers' Committee which held regular meetings and organised petitions, banners, coffee mornings, Bring and Buy sales and so on. They wrote to the Carnegie Foundation (based in the USA) who wrote back and offered their support - even to the extent of offering to send someone to Bournemouth. A couple of months after the initiation of the campaign, the Committee's efforts paid off to a certain extent and the Council agreed to delay the closure but review the situation after a year. The Committee's continued efforts, over the next few months ensured that the library remained open. David Leake has written a book "Then and Now 80 Years of Springbourne and its Library" which is available to read at, of course, Springbourne Library itself!

The second threat of closure occurred in 2002. Two seemingly unconnected reports going to Bournemouth Borough Council Committees appeared to confirm rumours that had been circulating amongst residents for a while - the library was under threat again. The Annual Library Plan referred several times to the closure of Springbourne Library under the Council's 'Best Value' policy - the savings made being used to help fund a new library in another part of town. There seemed to be two points of justification for the closure (i) 'footfall' and book borrowing was low therefore it was deemed 'under used' (ii) the cost of providing disabled access to the building was prohibitively high. The second report  was the draft Leisure Strategy for Outdoor Play Provision in Bournemouth which indicated that Springbourne Library was to be demolished and the ground on which it stood turned into a new play area.

Residents once again rose as one against adversity. Local Councillors were lobbied, questions were asked of Cabinet, petitions were signed. The question of the low attendance was raised and explained. The 'footfall' counter at the door (an electronic beam which added one to the total every time someone went over the threshold) was suspected to be faulty i.e. it was undercounting. The library staff began to keep an independent, manual record which proved this. One local resident was a qualified architect and worked very hard getting up a case to have the building formally listed by English Heritage who, unfortunately, decided it wasn't quite worth it. He also studied the plans for disabled access which the Council had drawn up and devised an alternative which would not cost nearly as much.

In November 2002, the Council decided to defer consultation on the closure of the library and the disabled access works went ahead. The new ramp was formally opened by the then Mayor, Cllr. Emily Morrell-Cross, on 23rd April 2005 (St. George's day!). A picture of that grand opening can be found here. Residents breathed a tentative sigh of relief. The library appeared to be safe once more.

During 2005 negotiations were entered into between Springbourne and Boscombe Neighbourhood Management, the Bourne Spring Trust and Bournemouth Borough Council about a financial contribution from the neighbourhood regeneration organisation towards the refurbishment of half of the library which had been closed for many years and used as a store room. The idea was to turn it into a room which could be used by the community. On 8th April 2006, that newly refurbished room was formally opened by the current Mayor, Councillor Ted Taylor and is already taking bookings. Further details of the room can be found by clicking on the button on the left hand menu.

Residents have finally allowed themselves to believe that the library is, once more saved from closure and will continue to be a focal community point and valuable asset for the residents of Springbourne and will actually survive to see its centenary.

Elaine M. Findlay

April 2006