PRIORSWOOD Library has become the 10th to secure its future through a community-led partnership.

Library friends, partners, school and nursery children and staff joined together at the library to celebrate the signing of the agreement between The Friends of Taunton Library and Somerset County Council.

Last week’s signing marked the tenth long-term Community Library Partnership confirmed this year between SCC and Friends and partner groups across Somerset.

The new partnerships were needed after the council announced cost-cutting plans which meant the libraries may have faced closure unless alternative plans were made.

Priorswood library will continue to be run and staffed by SCC with financial support from the Taunton Unparished Area Fund and West Monkton Parish Council.

Earlier this year, Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Taunton Unparished Area Fund announced it was allocating £17k, and Somerset Community Foundation organised a grant from Clarke Willmott. Both of these grants will go towards the costs of the installation of Open+ Access technology in the library later this year.

This technology, successfully used in other counties already, will in time allow library customers to access the library outside current staffed library hours for up to 55 hours a week.

Oliver Woodhams, Strategic Manager responsible for libraries at SCC said: “I am extremely pleased that partnership working in such a positive and proactive way has given Priorswood Library a sustainable and exciting future.

"We are very grateful for the support of the Friends of Taunton Library, West Monkton Parish Council and many other people and organisations who have helped and supported us to reach this exciting point.”

Sarah Gibb on behalf of the Friends of Taunton Library said: "All our hard work has been brought to fruition. The library will go from strength to strength. We look forward to continuing in governance and in any further support we can provide, making Priorswood Library the heart of the community."

£3K was also recently allocated annually by West Monkton Parish Council towards the library.

Patricia Cavill from the parish council said: “West Monkton Parish Council is delighted to be part of this initiative. A significant number of our parishioners use Priorswood Library. Priorswood not only provides access to written books, but a wide range of new technologies, and as such offers opportunities to all ages of users.”

Priorswood Library will continue to be staffed, with new technology enabling the library to open for additional unstaffed hours due to be installed later in the year.

Following an induction session, library customers will be able to access the library, borrow, return and renew their library loans, collect items that have been reserved, use the library’s public access computers and online resources, when staff aren’t present simply by scanning the barcode on their library card and using a PIN.