Library service celebrates decade of creating a 'better place to live'

Chantry Library celebrates 10th birthday of Suffolk Libraries

Chantry Library celebrates 10th birthday of Suffolk Libraries - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

A new library and the creation of new innovative services are among the highlights of Suffolk Libraries as it marks its tenth birthday.

The independent charity launched in 2012 to run the county’s library service and “make Suffolk a better place to live”. 

Children enjoy reading books at an Ipswich library

Children enjoy reading books at an Ipswich library - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

Since then, Suffolk Libraries has kept all 44 libraries open and saved Suffolk taxpayers £25million while its team worked hard on new activities for the local communities. 

In addition, 25 million books and other items have been borrowed since 2012. 

Kesgrave Library

Kesgrave Library - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

The charity aims to focus on making an impact on people’s well-being, by, among others, supporting the ‘Men Can Talk’ group at Chantry Library, selling low-cost health fruit and vegetable bags at Gainsborough on Thursday, and offers free menstrual products as part of its own mental health and wellbeing service.

Kesgrave Library

Gainsborough Library - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

Bruce Leeke, the CEO of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Suffolk Libraries is run by the community for the benefit of the community and that’s why almost everything we do is down to the amazing people who work and volunteer for our charity.   

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We want to use our ten-year birthday to remind everyone of everything Suffolk Libraries does to make Suffolk a better place to live.  

Adults and children enjoy visiting local libraries, Kesgrave Library

Adults and children enjoy visiting local libraries, Gainsborough Library - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

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“I hear heart-warming examples of what we mean to people almost every day, and we’re all very proud of what Suffolk Libraries has achieved over the past ten years. 

New mobile library 

New mobile library - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

“This celebration is also about paying tribute to everyone who has played a role in our story; our staff, community groups, and the many people who’ve supported our journey over the past ten years.” 

Suffolk Libraries is also celebrating the opening of the county's 45th library at Moreton Hall near Bury St Edmunds, which opened on Monday.

Opening of the new Moreton Hall Library. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Opening of the new Moreton Hall Library. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Throughout the whole month, the charity is going to share messages of support across Suffolk and examples of the many ways it touches people’s lives. 

Suffolk Libraries has 410 members of staff and 1,111 active volunteers who support services, including Home Library Service and Summer Reading Challenge.  

Noah, Ezra and Niamh having fun in the cubby hole at the new community library in Moreton Hall. Pic

Noah, Ezra and Niamh having fun in the cubby hole at the new community library in Moreton Hall. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Suffolk Libraries' goal is to reflect on what has been achieved and discover new ways of how the charity can continue supporting local individuals and organisations. 

Mr Leeke added: “It’s not just about the stories that people borrow from us, it’s about the ones we help them create.  

Kesgrave Library

Gainsborough Library - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

“It’s the stories about how Suffolk Libraries has reached people, supported them and changed their lives for the better.”

Mural at Kesgrave Library

Gainsborough Library - Credit: Simon Lee Photography Suffolk UK

Other facts you might not know

  • The most popular books for adults borrowed from Suffolk libraries for the last ten years were The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Make Me, Personal and Night School by Lee Child, as well as Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin and The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop. 
  • The most borrowed children's books since 2012 were those written by Jeff Kinney, including Rodrick Rules, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Cabin Fever as well as Billionaire Boy by David Walliams. 
  • The eLibrary has been growing in popularity every year, with 6 million digital downloads in the last ten years. This includes ebooks, audiobooks, downloadable newspapers and magazines, free music and films. 
  • During lockdown, Suffolk Libraries launched a new befriending service. The charity’s volunteers made 11,000 calls to isolated or older customers since March 2020.  
  • Since 2012, the charity run 91,000 events in local libraries with over 1.3 million attendances.