The Culture Minister Michael Ellis MP, who includes public libraries in his portfolio, applauded Merton’s award-winning libraries during his visit last week (Thursday 11 October).
As part of National Libraries Week, Wimbledon Library, the busiest and oldest of the borough’s libraries hosted Michael Ellis MP. He was welcomed by Councillor Nick Draper, Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Chief Executive of Merton Council Ged Curran, and local ward Councillors.
During the visit, Mr Ellis MP was shown how the library has been transformed into a hub that works in partnership with a range of providers to deliver on its priorities of improving resident’s health, social and economic outcomes whilst being an invaluable service for residents to engage with reading, cultural, digital, information and wellbeing services. It is a model that is being successfully delivered across all of Merton’s libraries.
He was introduced to the Artistic Director of Attic Theatre Company, Jonathan Humphreys, whose production of ‘The Rebellious Women of Wimbledon’ is currently showing at the Merton Arts Space. Mr Ellis was inspired by the Arts Space and how the renovation of a space in the library now meets many different needs for the borough and hosts excellent cultural activities. The Minister also took part in ‘The Paper Traveller’, written and directed by Marie Klimis, an immersive theatre project explicitly made for libraries.
Mr Ellis MP led part of one the library’s very popular morning story times for children and noted the exceptional work being done by volunteers across all of Merton’s libraries. He noted the great work being done and how this should be a blueprint for libraries across the country.
Mr Ellis MP also spent time with Wimbletech, a collaboration between local entrepreneur David Fletcher and the council. Wimbletech started from humble beginnings to be a group of 200 business start-ups generating significant investment into the borough and all based in Wimbledon Library. Wimbletech is an important part of the borough’s Inward Investment Strategy.
Merton Council’s member for community and culture, Councillor Nick Draper, said: “Mr Ellis’s visit to Wimbledon library was his high point in Library Week. As minister with responsibility for libraries, he wanted to visit the best library service in London, and he did. He was so happy reading to the children that I suggested he cancel the rest of his appointments for the day so he could carry on! He was clearly impressed with everything he saw and everyone he met. We should all be very proud of our libraries.”