12:15PM, Wednesday 10 May 2017
Half a century of Bourne End Library is to be marked with a bumper calendar of events.
Talks from top authors and musical performances are expected to be among the highlights of the programme, which will run throughout May.
And the celebrations will be all the more significant as the centre, in Wakeman Road, ran into bad fortune before the first book had even been checked out.
In 1966, before construction was finished, burglars started a fire which damaged the building’s roof – the site had been left abandoned after the contractors running the project went into administration.
But work continued and on its first day of lending on May 31, 1967, almost 650 books were stamped in just three hours.
Completed at a cost of £18,000, it was thought to be the UK’s first library with carpeting throughout and even had a Telex machine for checking the availability of titles in other branches.
It was also a welcome improvement on the village’s previous library – a shed next to The Walnut Tree pub in Hedsor Road.
Three years ago it became a community library with three paid members of staff supported by volunteers.
Library manager Inka D’Agostino, who has worked there since 1999, said: “The library has seen its fair share of changes over the last 50 years, but its great value to the community remains the same as ever.
“It's a place where everyone can come to socialise, enjoy the garden and monthly art exhibitions, attend fabulous events, and of course borrow a good book.
“We’re really looking forward to celebrating our birthday and hope to see as many people as possible in the library during the festival.”
A special calendar of events has been arranged to mark the library’s half century of lending.
Visit the library directly or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and book.
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