Lord Gardiner of Kimble paid a special visit to Beacon Villages Community Library on Friday, October 11, as part of Buckinghamshire's Libraries Week.
Lord Gardiner is a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, serving as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity.
He visited Beacon Villages Community Library, in Ivinghoe, to see an example of how a library can provide a valuable community resource in a more rural setting.
The Library, run by a committee of dedicated trustees, is on the ground floor of Ivinghoe's medieval Town Hall, which also houses the village post office.
Beacon Villages Community Library offers traditional book borrowing alongside modern services, including access to the internet, printing, photocopying, and access to digital services like e-magazines and e-newspapers.
The services Buckinghamshire’s libraries offer were celebrated during Libraries Week with a number of special events.
Lord Gardiner met more than a dozen library volunteers, trustees of the library committee and parish councillors, and enthusiastically quizzed them all on the benefits of the library to the rural communities it serves.
Run by the community, Beacon Villages Library is one of a cluster of community buildings and facilities in Ivinghoe which include a pharmacy and a playground as well as another community-run building with a coffee shop and shared office space.
Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted to be here at Beacon Villages Community Library, which is a perfect illustration of how public institutions can bring people together in rural areas.
“Libraries play a key role for vibrant communities across England, inspiring people of all ages, building digital skills, fostering health and wellbeing and supporting local business.”
Following his library visit Lord Gardiner saw the work being done at Ivinghoe's Village Hub in the nearby former school, overseen by villagers Bob Corn and Carol Tarrant, providing community activities and a cafe run by local people.
Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said: “It was great to welcome Lord Gardiner to Beacon Villages Library today – to showcase the real value of what a library like this offers.
"Of course, people go to their local library to read and borrow books, but they are so much more than that – a real community asset, especially libraries like this in a more remote setting.
"We thank all volunteers for their tireless work in running our community libraries and we recognise how important these places are to local people.”
Avril Davies, who chairs the committee that runs Beacon Villages Community Library, said: “It was wonderful that we were able to host Lord Gardiner today, and show him how our thriving Community Library works.
"Beacon Villages Community Library is an extremely important building at the heart of our village offering many services and facilities to people in this rural part of the county and we’ve been able to show that today. ”