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Maesteg Library at 65 – a Great Past and a Bright Future

2020 marked 65 years of Maesteg Library, the long-awaited service first opening its doors in 1955 being (along with Caerffili) the first purpose-built county library since the Second World War.

A year on, the Glamorgan Gazette reported on the library’s extraordinary success and reception by the people of the Llynfi Valley.

Yes – Maesteg’s library was well worthwhile

For years there was a public outcry at Maesteg for a county library branch. For a long time it seemed that it was nothing more than a dream. Students became despondent, the Town Council almost gave up the ghost. But all was not lost.

During its first year, 94,577 books were borrowed from the Maesteg branch.

The high volume of non-fiction books borrowed in Maesteg Library’s first year – the highest of any branch in Glamorgan, led the article to claim that It would seem that the reading public of the Llynfi Valley are slightly more high-brow than the rest of Glamorgan.

Also noteworthy was the “Big Demand for Welsh Books”

The demand for Welsh books was expected in Tir Iarll – a district renowned for its literary traditions and for its association with every phase of Welsh culture – but the extent of the demand has been most gratifying and an inspiration to those concerned about the future of the native tongue.

A New Chapter

Maesteg Library forms an integral part of Maesteg Town Hall’s redevelopment, and will be relocated, along with the Local and Family History Library and a new Heritage Centre, to the former Maesteg Market Hall, finally answering the call made at the opening ceremony of Maesteg Town Hall in 1881:

There might be a brain power waiting to be educated into action. It was impossible to say how many men, out of thousands in Maesteg, would have become benefactors to their country if a library and reading-room were established there . . .
Bridged Chronicle, 28 October 1881

Helen Pridham, Awen Cultural Trust’s Libraries Operations and Innovations Manager, said:

“The current library in the town has a wonderful atmosphere (and just celebrated it’s 65th birthday), but a building that’s 65 years old can only do so much, and we want it to do so much more.

We’re looking forward to the library being right in the centre of the town – we want it to accomplish so many things – a real community space that everyone feels welcome in, a safe haven for those who need to recharge and relax, a studious space for those who want to access quality information and resources, a fun environment for children with lots of opportunities for activities and events, a social space where people can meet up, interact, learn, volunteer, chat and drink coffee.

We don’t want to lose the atmosphere of the current library – we want to build on it and have a space that allows more people to experience it and enjoy it.

We’re especially looking forward to having the Local and Family History library and the town library together – and we’re excited about creating opportunities for children to engage with the history of their community; and offering chances for people to volunteer to help tell and share that story.

I can’t think of anything better than a cosy chair next to a coffee table with a lamp and a warm drink on it, and my new favourite book in my lap while I wait for my Book Club to start”