A LIBRARY run entirely by volunteers has opened after months of planning.

Around 100 people attended Saturday's (April 14) launch of South Chingford Community Library, which is based at the former Waltham Forest Direct shop in Chingford Mount Road.

The initiative was drawn up by residents and opposition Conservative councillors after the council leadership decided to shut the South Chingford facility in Hall Lane and the Harrow Green library in Leytonstone in December to save money.

So far the new branch will only be open on Saturdays between 10am and 4pm, but the library's chair Greg Pope said they hoped to expand the hours if more volunteers came forward.

The council has helped provide close to 8,000 books for the library, with volunteers securing ward forum funding to help pay its bills.

Mr Pope, 60, of Lawrence Hill in Chingford, said: "Overall the opening was quite successful. We got about 100 people through the doors and signed up just over 50 members.

"We've been asking for ideas about how the wider community can use it, and we've already had suggestions for a toy library and internet courses for the elderly.

"The feeling at the moment is very positive and we've had support from businesses such as Petra's café in South Chingford, which provided free food for the launch, so there's a real community feel.

"The test will be how many people we get coming on a regular basis, that will tell us whether it's been a success or not."

Mr Pope said nearly 50 people had signed up as volunteers and organisers were now working out what others regular times the library could open.

It was officially opened by mayor of Waltham Forest Cllr Geoff Walker and Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith.

Later in the day London mayor Boris Johnson also came for a visit.

"IDS said he had some books he could donate and Boris offered to post us a copy of his autobiography.

"It was nice for our profile but to be honest we were more interest in what the local community had to say", added Mr Pope.

The library costs £1 to join for a year, or 50p for children under the age of 11.

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