Hidden amongst the trees on Surrey Street, Arundel library is a well-loved facility that many rely on as a weekly refuge to socialise, study, and relax. As the world increasingly relies on technology as its primary source of information, I wanted to understand why libraries still hold so much importance within the community, so met up with volunteer Kate, to find out more.  

Arundel library is a free resource providing a support network for people from all walks of life. Kate explained that ‘during the pandemic, people would come and collect their books, and have a chat with you, so you get to know most of the customers quite well.’  Arundel library truly is a community hub, with Kate jokingly describing being called one of the towns ‘agony aunts!’ In addition to this, Arundel Library is sign-posted as a warm, safe space for the homeless, offering an opportunity for them to use the library computers, charge their phone, or simply to sit in the warm for a few hours and talk to a friendly face. As a result, this occasionally allows the library to guide some towards local charities, such as stone pillow.

Aside from the fantastic selection of books Arundel library provides, free e-books and magazines are also available online. The well-loved library is often buzzing with families, with lots of activities to entertain and enrich children’s enthusiasm for reading. This includes rhyme time every Thursday (welcoming around 20-30 children each week) and ‘the summer reading challenge’, which takes place during the holidays. However, many can also be found enjoying a jigsaw puzzle with friends, or participating in a frightfully competitive game of pensioner scrabble! However, larger libraries in Sussex also offer ‘knit and natters’, book groups, and author talks.

In recent years, hundreds of public libraries have closed across the country due to lack of funding and volunteers available from local councils, with the exception being West Sussex. In order to keep these valued spaces alive and well, libraries must adapt to the demographic of people they serve, as now more than ever, it is crucial that all citizens have access to free reading resources.