Unique Somerset library welcomes the new year
By Ed Patrick,
The Library of Avalon in Glastonbury is probably the only public access esoteric library in the country and in August it was engulfed in two feet of water during a flash flood. Despite losing over 2,000 books and almost all the bookcases to the destructive torrent, an undaunted band of volunteers immediately set about cleaning up the mess and saving as many books as possible before stripping out and refitting the library from scratch.
Their efforts can now be rewarded as they open the library’s doors on February 7th from 1.30pm till 6pm for a re-launch party and welcome the public in once again to enjoy their unique collection of over 15,000 books. Originally founded in 1988 as an educational and research resource for British Mythology and esoteric study, with the celebrated Somerset based writer Geoffrey Ashe MBE is its patron, it houses specialist sections on Glastonbury and Arthurian themes as well as books on British Mythology, religion, philosophy, and many other esoteric subjects, including related fiction. This unique Somerset library is a registered charity, financed by membership fees and donations and is entirely independent of government funding.
Housed in a medieval building in the rear of The Glastonbury Experience Courtyards off the town’s high street, this library is intended to emulate the great medieval library of Glastonbury Abbey but, while it may have one foot planted firmly in the past, it may also hold the answer to the future survival of our public libraries in the way it is financed and run. Managed entirely by volunteers, admission and use of the reading room is free while annual lending membership works out at less than £2 a month, with concession rates available. The facilities include the medieval reading room as a venue for appropriate talks and presentations. Details about their service can be found on their website: libraryofavalon.org.uk/. “We are not just a book lending facility,” commented Richard Newman, the library’s secretary. “We are also planning new publications on local history and launching an appeal to find and get facsimile copies of books that were taken from the original Glastonbury Abbey Library during its destruction in the reformation.”