The Working Class Movement Library (WCML) has the support of many celebrities including Maxine Peake and Christopher Eccleston but Salford City Council cuts, imposed by the ConDem Government, will mean a loss of funding of £18,400 by 2014.
The impact will be to seek friends and supporters to find ways of raising money. For just £10 a year, or £5 unwaged, anyone can be a Friend of the Library. You get invited to regular events and receive a copy of the Library's quarterly Shelf Life magazine.
Trade Union branches are also being encouraged to make donations to what is the largest collection of the working class movement's literature in the country.
The WCML is a unique Victorian building that was previously a nurses home and stands out on The Crescent with its black and white frontage. It's been the base for the Library since 1987, following the collection's founding by Eddie and Ruth Frow in 1950.
It now contains around 35,000 books and hundreds of pamphlets, plus artifacts, flags, banners, photos, records and badges plus an attic and cellar full of strike archives and objects and books that won't fit on the shelves. The Library covers such diverse topics as trade unions, the Spanish Civil War, Salford gangs, the Chartist movement, the miners strikes and the industry's local history.
At the moment no member of staff is being threatened with redundancy through the cut in the funding but Library Manager, Lynette Cawthra, says "We will have to rely more on our band of loyal volunteers, although, when working, they need a member of staff with them at all times because of the way the books and artifacts are kept".
The Library was also hit financially when Hazel Blears MP, who had an office there, recently vacated it and moved to Langworthy Road as her constituency boundary had shifted.
"There is no threat at the moment of the Library closing through lack of funding" says Lynette "Reduced financial support from Salford Council means that by 2014 our income from that source will be down by about £18,400. Clearly we need to try and find that amount from somewhere.
"If we are to maintain the momentum of the huge increases in usage of the Library over the last few years, we need to raise £86,000 each year from sources other than the City Council and interest earned by our reserves" she adds "That's an increase of £42,500 on what has been raised this year."
The Library has just come to the end of an immensely successful Heritage Lottery Fund project to make the Library more open and accessible. Visitor numbers have gone up more than fivefold in the last three years. Every two weeks on Wednesday afternoons the Library has guest speakers which have included talks about Salford in the past – the old houses, whit walks, schools and the docks in its heyday.
A recent evaluation report on the Library states amongst other things that "The Library also fulfils a social function for its local audience. Your Salford history events have helped to partially restore a very fragmented working class community".
Only recently, Maxine Peake, a patron, praised the Library while being interviewed on BBC4, while Christopher Eccleston has narrated a video about the Library's activities. Salford's unique Working Class Movement Library must be kept open.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1) Become a Friend of the Library for only £10 a year or £5 unwaged
See here for details
2) Persuade your trade union to support the Library with donations. Library staff will come to meetings and speak or provide leaflets to pass around.
For further details of these and other ways of helping the Working Class Movement Library click here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Words by Joyce Daly