The first day under new management at Suffolk’s smallest library

Debenham library with banner and manager

Manager Maureen John at the door of Debenham library with the new Suffolk Libraries banner

Customers noticed little difference today as control of Suffolk Libraries passed from the County Council to a new independent Industrial and Provident Society, a not-for-profit organisation with unpaid directors.

At Debenham, the smallest library in the county, it was a busy afternoon. A banner at the door signalled the transfer with its slogan, “expanding horizons”.

In a message to library users, Shona Bendix, chair of the IPS, said:

We have been created especially to run the library service.  We have exempt charity status and we are an industrial and provident society, run for the benefit of our membership.

Our membership will be drawn from community groups who want to have a voice in the running of their local library.  Perhaps you would like to join a group, or help to start one?  Talk to the local library staff if you’d like to know more.

There will be no change to the things which are important to you so you will still be able to

  • borrow books for free
  • reserve Suffolk books for free
  • browse on the internet for free for 2 hours a day
  • use any Suffolk library
  • get help with information

We are honoured and proud to run Suffolk’s library services and we are committed to ensuring that the services are customer friendly, meet local needs and keep up the high standards.  This includes keeping our expert and friendly paid staff.

We will not be closing any libraries and there are no plans to replace paid staff with volunteers.

In the future, we want to work with people in communities to improve, and extend your library service.  We’d like to hear from you about your ideas.  Again, talk to local library staff, or email us

The IPS is funded by Suffolk County Council which has reduced its expenditure. Debenham has set up a working group which will be working with the IPS to develop the library. Since it opened, after a local campaign, in 2003 Debenham library has been very successful, serving a population three or four times that of the village.

Debenham library busy interior

Debenham library

It is now has outgrown the premises, once a bank, and hopes to move, probably to the Primary School. A fortnight ago the working group was awarded £5,366 from a fund set up by the County council to help local groups pioneering new ways working with the IPS. The money will help make the plan to move the library possible.

Yesterday afternoon the library was packed with users of all ages. Loans and library visitors have increased year-by-year while national figures show a decrease

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