Canton Library is the third-busiest in Cardiff – but its soaring visitor figures have not been reflected in its meagre funding allowance.
The brown brick building’s dilapidated interior is a far cry from the £15m state-of-the-art Cardiff Central Library.
While the central library has proved the most popular, libraries such as Cathays, Grangetown and Llandaff North have benefited from the council’s multi-million pound investment over recent years, despite bringing in far fewer visitors than Canton Library.
Ward councillors Ramesh Patel and Richard Cook have called on the Lib Dem executive to do something for the building which saw more than 144,000 people through its doors last year.
He said: “I feel that Canton has been treated badly because it’s a Labour ward whereas most of the investment has gone into the wards where the Lib Dem and Plaid coalition are based.”
He added: “It needs a certain amount of money spent on it and more than any library, it is one of the most heavily used libraries after Cardiff Central. Really there is no excuse for no funding or very little funding going on there. The paint is peeling off the walls. We used to have a photocopying machine in there – when that broke down, the council refused to put a new one in.”
A Cardiff council spokeswoman said millions of pounds had been spent on library buildings in the last five years.
But figures show little more than £25,000 had been spent on the popular library in the same period. Coun Patel said the majority of this, equating to around £5,000 a year, would have been swallowed up in maintenance costs and essential repairs for broken pipes or door locks.
A fire ravaged the library in February 1997. Coun Cook said: “There was insurance money to do up the library then, as far as I know it hasn’t been done up since.”
In July Coun Cook attended an economy and culture scrutiny committee in which members were told £750,000 would be needed to refurbish Canton library, but he is yet to see an anticipated report.
A Cardiff council spokeswoman said: “In recent years, we have undertaken a Library Development Programme, which has seen improvements made to libraries across the city including Cathays, Penylan, Llanrumney,Rhiwbina, Grangetown, Llandaff North, Rhydypennau, and of course Central Library.
“We are currently looking into funding options, which include applying for various grants to help continue the Library Development Programme in other branch libraries with Canton library being one of our priorities in any next phase of improvements.”
Library visiting figures for April 09 – March 10
57009 Llandaff North
7890 Mobile Library*
101274 St Mellons
1444214 Branches Total
*means part-time opening hours
Brief history of Canton Library
March 7, 1907 – Canton Library is opened by Herbert Thompson. He wrote a history of Cardiff, became a city alderman of the city and treasurer and vice-president of University College, Cardiff, and jointly gave £5,000 with Charles Thompson Jnr towards the purchase of Llandaff Fields for the public.
Money for the building of the purpose-built Canton Library, which cost £5,000, was donated by Victorian philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Edwardian chairs, tables and a newspaper stand from the library was donated to the Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans, in 1991.
The library was ravaged by a devastating fire in February 1997 and re-opened a year later.
What do you think about the figures? Do you think the library needs a face-lift? Let us know your views in the comments below