Fence book exchange bringing a community together

Volunteers at the Fence book exchange.

In response to their local library closing down, a group of volunteers in Fence have set up a book exchange to maintain a keen sense of community in the village and keep people of all ages reading.

Promising "something for everyone," the book exchange is located in the village hall where the old library was previously situated and offers a wide range of genres for all kinds of readers, as well as a volunteer on hand to help those looking for a recommendation or two.

Offering the chance to buy, browse, or borrow free of charge, the exchange - which attracts around 30 people per week at the moment - has further scope for growth, with its stock including children's books, plenty of well-known authors, the latest thrillers, crime, romance, and a non-fiction section.

"It's been doing quite well really," said Pam Barton, one of the volunteers. "We're very happy we've done it, but we still think there'll be loads of people who don't know about it and there's definitely room for more customers: we've got a really good setup with as many books as there used to be in the library.

"I do think if more people knew about it, it would be more popular," Pam continued.

Running alongside the usual exchange service, there will also be a Reading Group held on the second Wednesday of every month to which new members are always welcome, while on Monday afternoons, people can come along and enjoy a "brew and biscuit" as well.

"We're right in the middle of the village, so it's something for people to come to - even if people don't look at the books they can come in on a Monday afternoon for a brew," said Pam. "It gets people out of the house, gives them a purpose.

"The government says there are all these people who are lonely, so we're trying to keep something going to provide a focus and somebody to chat to," Pam added of the exchange, which is open every Monday and Thursday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm and which could open on a Saturday depending on demand.

"We've got a really good children's section with jigsaws as well," Pam said. "We've got a good selection of fiction and non-fiction and everything's in good condition - we only keep the best. And if we get a surplus we pass it on to the Samaritans; it's a win-win, nothing goes to waste.

"Bob in and have a look, there's no obligation to buy or take a book."

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