STAFF at a Wirral library that once faced closure have celebrated the 50th anniversary of its opening with a tea party.

Irby library was one of 11 that were earmarked for the axe in 2008, as part of a council asset review. Following much public opposition, the library was saved.

This afternoon, former staff were joined by children from Irby Primary and Dawpool Primary for the celebration.

Pupils had created displays about their favourite stories, which were on view during the party, which was organised by Friends of Irby Library (FOIL). Wirral's mayor and mayoress, Cllr Dave and Sue Mitchell, were also among the guests.

Jacqueline McKelvie, Friends' chairman thanked all those who were able to attend.

Looking back on the library's history, she said: "It used to be housed in a small shop in the village, but obviously it was realised that a much larger facility was needed.

"We are so thankful for the foresight of people in the Library Service in 1964, and we are pleased that some of the former staff are here with us today."

She continued: "As chairman of FOIL, I am supported by a very willing and able team who give up so much of their time to help with fundraising events which we hope will keep our library open for a very long time.

"The residents of Irby have also supported us in our fairly new book sponsorship scheme which, to date, has raised a very generous £500."

Library manager Diane Adams, who has been based at the library for more than 25 years, told the Globe: "It's a community library for the people. It's all about the community.

"I've seen a lot changes. It's always busy and over the years I've come to know everyone.

"I've watched little children grow, go off to university and come back. They have jobs in our area and it's lovely to see them come back."

The proposed closures in 2008 were part of a plan that would also see community centres and village halls across Wirral stripped of their council staff and funding.


Addressing guests at the library this afternoon, mayor Dave Mitchell, said: "I'm delighted to be here. Sue and I love libraries; we're friends of our own library in Eastham.

"I actually voted against my own particular party five years ago to maintain the library service as we know it today.

"I support the library service as much as I can. I'm delighted to be here today.

"We need to preserve the libraries for the children of the future. Libraries are marvellous for the community and I'm glad Irby's has reached 50. I hope it reaches another 50."

Nicola McHale from Irby Primary said: "We've been coming to the library for many years now and it was nice to be part of the celebrations."

Jill Peters, from Dawpool Primary, added: "It's just an honour and privilege to be part of the local community.

"We are fortunate to have a library within the community to bring our children too.

"As part of the reading challenge, each of the children in our school read at least four books a year, something they couldn't do without a library in the community."