Lockdown library looking for more young readers

Laura Balerdi's lockdown library in Great Dunmow

Laura Balerdi's lockdown library in Great Dunmow - Credit: Laura Balerdi

A growing ‘lockdown library’ in Great Dunmow is looking for more young users and donations. 

Laura Balerdi, an English teacher previously at the Helena Romanes School and Saffron Walden County Highschool, reached more than 100 children’s books in only a few weeks. 

The books have been donated by local residents and are suitable for babies up until primary school age. There is a range of books, including picture books, early reader books and animal books. 

Laura Balerdi's lockdown library in Great Dunmow

Laura Balerdi's lockdown library in Great Dunmow - Credit: Laura Balerdi

Laura has been putting announcements on Dunmow Facebook groups such as Dunmow Pay It Forward Community Group, Great Dunmow Community Hub and Dunmow Residents Group. People who want to borrow message her on Facebook, she shares her address and leaves them on her doorstep. 

She said she cleans and quarantines the books before releasing them to new families. 

When someone finishes with a book, they go to Laura’s house to drop the ones they read, and often pick up new ones.  

However, she is concerned that she may not be reaching families who desperately need them. 

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She said: “I do find it upsetting that libraries are closed, when some children have no access to books and cannot afford to buy them.  

“Lots of children don’t have the access they usually have for education, so I find that quite awful. We don’t know how long this is going to go on for so this keeps the learning going. 

“I also question why restaurants are open for takeaways but books are not regarded as 'essential', in a time when children are becoming more and more reliant on screens, and when literacy levels are becoming even lower.” 

So far, Laura received a lot of positive feedback. 

She said: “People said it’s a great idea, they said ‘oh thank God, we ran out of books!’ 

“Some people messaged me with requests.” 

She added: “They don’t need to bring a book in order to exchange it, if they want to borrow something.  

“I think I had about 30 people taking books and quite a few donations. When they do donate, they bring massive bags of books which is quite good.” 

Laura is intending to set up a Facebook page, but until then, donations and requests can be made at couttslm@googlemail.com 

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