A New Year's Message from Gladstone's Library

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A New Year's Message from Gladstone's Library

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Dear Friends,

When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem not only addressed America’s current political turmoil but speaks to a world cowed by the present pandemic. 

Ever since Gladstone’s Library faced catastrophe wrought by the pandemic I can, almost a year on, tell you that in the midst of many hard decisions there have been wonderful moments of light and hope that have ensured we do have a future. Who would have expected that a flurry of donations from enthusiasts for libraries would have come from Spain thanks to a wonderful article in El Pais? In addition, supporters from Europe, USA and the village of Hawarden together with so many of you from the rest of the UK have not only helped to save us financially but shown how much you value us. Our sponsor a shelf scheme has raised over £72,000. If you haven’t yet given please think about helping us by clicking on the link on the banner above this letter – it would be a wonderful  Valentine’s day token of your love for the Library (and your loved one) and, at the same time, it will enable us to move ever nearer to our target of £100,000.  In the midst of so much gloom your support has been a wonderful chink of light and hope. Thank you.

The one thing I have learnt about this pandemic is that as soon as you make a decision the next day some new development means that is no longer valid. That has been the been the case with this letter. This is one of many drafts – all of which have had to be discarded because of the latest predictions, infection rates or whatever. Therefore, in this letter I am not going to make any predictions about when we will re-open. What I can say is that we will not open until we are as certain as we can be that we will not put visitors or staff at risk. We will only open when there is a good chance of staying open with no more expected lockdowns. 

My hesitancy and those caveats don’t mean that we are not busy readying Gladstone’s Library for your return. As I write, builders are making four bedrooms Covid safe by adding private bathrooms, they are also more than doubling the number of WCs on the ground floor and improving the area around reception and the front door. We will also be transforming the dining room before we re-open. All these improvements are not only necessary and long overdue but they allow for greater social distancing.  These enhancements are happening as a result of on-going fundraising applications and discussions; we have been working on applications almost every week since closure. 

There is light at the end of this dark tunnel: There are vaccines which will help ensure our safety; there are events planned for the end of this year; we are setting dates for recruitment of staff; there is your generosity and thoughtful support that makes those of us working here confident that there is a  future for this wonderful institution and it won’t be too long before we can all meet again.  Let me conclude with a further quote from The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman:

For there is always light,

If only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

You, our friends and supporters, are our light and, because of your generosity, our hope.  I hope that in various ways Gladstone’s Library will offer you light and hope for many years to come.

Peter Francis
Warden and Director