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Southwold Library is moving!

Suffolk Libraries, the charity which runs the county’s library service, is delighted to announce the opening of another new library.

Southwold Library is moving to a larger, purpose-built space at the Old Hospital Hub, a new community hub within the redeveloped former Southwold Hospital. The old library has now closed to allow staff to move and will reopen at the new site on Thursday 5 May.

The library will be the second service to open in the new community hub in Field Stile Road built by SouthGen, a social enterprise. The first was the Old Hospital Nursery on 25 April. In addition to the nursery and library, the Old Hospital will host The Canteen, a farm to fork community café and Southwold Works, a co-working space. The rest of the site has been redeveloped as affordable housing for local people by Hastoe Housing Association. 

Charlotte Clark, Suffolk Libraries Executive Library Manager and Manager for Southwold Library, said:

“We’re very excited that the move is happening and can’t wait to reopen the library in the new space which includes a beach hut themed children’s nook. All our libraries offer many different services and activities for the community and I’m sure the new space will provide us with more possibilities and opportunities to do even more for local people. We’re very grateful for SouthGen for making this happen.”

The library is the third new library to open this year in Suffolk, with Needham Market Library opening in February and Long Melford Library also recently moving to a new location.

To welcome the library to its new home, SouthGen is throwing a children’s party at the Old Hospital on 7 May from 10AM to 12PM. Children will plant sunflower seeds in the library and Canteen gardens, indulge in home-made cakes and biscuits and make thank you cards for the Bumstead family to show the community’s appreciation for giving Southwold Library a home for 83 years. 

The library’s old home on North Green had been built as an Assembly Hall in around 1900. It was used as a temporary home for the Catholic Church and as a carpenter’s workshop until around 1933 when it was purchased by George Bumstead, who had grocery shop on Stradbroke Road. The library had originally been housed at the Town Hall. When it outgrew this space, George Bumstead offered it a 75-year lease in the former Assembly Hall. 

Jessica Jeans, SouthGen Chair, explained,

“George was a remarkable man, of humble origins and many talents, who did so much good for the community in so many ways but never sought the spotlight. I hope that young people, learning about George, will be inspired by his example.”

The library will retain the same opening hours and its current timetable of events and activities. Once the move has taken place there are plans to hopefully run additional activities. Customers will have access to the Canteen and accessible public toilets.   

Suffolk Libraries apologises for any inconvenience whilst the library is closed to allow the move to take place. Customers can use any other library or mobile library during the closure with Halesworth the closest alternative. Any library loans had had their due dates automatically extended until the new library opens.

Find out more about the community hub project and SouthGen.