Volunteers have hailed the opening of a community-run library as a “lifeline” for people living in the borough’s most deprived wards.

Leytonstone residents opened the new facility in The Epicentre in West Street on Saturday, 16 months after Waltham Forest Council shut Harrow Green Library, which was used by people in Cann Hall and Cathall wards.

A total of 6,000 people signed a petition against the closure and dozens attended the launch of the new community-run branch as the volunteers behind it emphasised the importance of having a local library.

Co-organiser Daniel Asmoah said: “Everyone seemed very excited, it went very well. The petitions showed how much people relied on a local service, now they finally have one again.

“It’s really a success story. The library will be a lifeline for a lot of people because the nearest ones without us would be hard to reach for more vulnerable. There’s a lot of poverty round here, it’s just where a library is needed. It’s a relief to be open.”

The venture has opened with more than 3,000 books from the old library, while an additional 200 have been donated by the local community.

Around 70 people have signed up as potential volunteers to help staff the branch, and more pledged to help out on the day. Around 20 others became members on the day.

Another co-organiser, Ros Kane, said she hoped the library could find a larger facility as it grows.

She said: “We want to build it up into a first class library. Cann Hall and Cathall are incredibly deprived areas so having a community-run library is a step in the right direction.

“But people deserve a proper library. Our room is small, it would be awful to turn people away. [Harrow Green’s] sitting there with shelving and computers so hopefully we could move back there.”

The volunteer initiative has two computers with more on the way, but has no internet at the moment – a problem expected to be rectified by next month.

Organisers are due to visit South Chingford Community Library in Chingford Mount Road, to share and swap expertise after it opened last April following the closure of South Chingford Library.

It will begin with opening hours on Saturdays, 11am to 2pm, but hope to increase that and hold author visits and other events if volunteers remain enthusiastic.

Call 0208 555 5248 or email roskane@btinternet.com for more information and if you would like to help at the library.