A volunteer-led initiative to stop a Colliers Wood library closing for one day a week has been abandoned while the group behind a similar bid in Motspur Park claims it is on course for success.

From July, Donald Hope Library in Colliers Wood will close on Fridays as part of Merton Council’s £26m package of cuts this year, although it will be open for an extra hour on the days it remains open.

Aaron Wood, chairman of the newly formed Friends of Donald Hope Library group, said: “It was a really difficult decision to make. We do not want to lose that day but we do recognise that the work done by professional staff can’t be easily replicated.

“To open the library on that extra day, there would be huge levels of training for things like data protection and administration.”

"The work we would put in would detract from the work we can do for pressing the case for Donald Hope Library.

“To open the library on that extra day, there would be huge levels of training for things like data protection and administration.”

Part of the problem with under-usage of the library, Mr Wood said, was because not enough younger people were aware that the library offers more services than just book and DVD loans.

He added: “We feel that certain groups are under-represented, such as young people who are lost to libraries until a certain age.

“Many people do not understand what the library can offer, but people who use libraries know that they have a lot to offer, such as chess clubs and CV writing workshops.”

The Friends group will now work with the Colliers Wood Residents' Association to issue leaflets and organise more events at the library.

West Barnes Library was also earmarked for closure on Mondays from July, but members of its committee have managed to recruit nearly 50 people who are willing to be put on a Monday rota of helpers.

The Friends of West Barnes Library has handed out leaflets to 3,000 nearby homes and, last Thursday, held an open day to recruit potential volunteers who were given advice by Merton Voluntary Service Council.

Bob Forsberg, a committee member of Friends of West Barnes Library, said: “We have had a lot of people come forward now but reliability is the key thing we’re after.

“People can commit as long as they like – whether it’s a couple of hours or a whole day – but it is crucial that they can come when they say they can.”

To get involved with the Friends of West Barnes library, email libraryvolunteering@merton.gov.uk or fill in a volunteer card at the library itself.

Have you signed up as a volunteer? Leave a comment below, call 020 8722 6335 or email: ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk.

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