June 7, 2011
A special event for Warwickshire communities interested in running their own library was held at Rugby College last Thursday (2 June 2011).
The day was designed to help delegates consider their options – and find out more about the practicalities of communities running a library from people already operating community-run services in other parts of the country.
The morning’s presentations included a talk on a community library operating from within a Herefordshire church; the experience of locals who run the library in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire; and a community partnership running their library as part of a ‘hub’ in Hawes, North Yorkshire.
Worcestershire County Council explained how they are ‘bridging the service gap’ with two mini volunteer-run village hall libraries, both managed by the council – plus around 200 community book collections in other public places, such as children’s and youth centres.
Other speakers covered topics including volunteer recruitment, developing social enterprises and asset transfers. The afternoon gave delegates a chance to quiz speakers for more information on a one-to-one basis.
Around 30 Warwickshire community representatives attended the event, travelling from all over the county.
The event was chaired by Cllr Colin Hayfield, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio-holder for Customers, Access and Physical Assets.
“I found the day very informative and useful – and I hope everyone who came along, to represent their respective communities, did too,” said Cllr Hayfield. “It’s a steep learning curve for Warwickshire County Council, as well as for volunteer groups looking to run their own local library services. Hearing how other communities and library authorities have approached this has been really enlightening.”
The day ended with an open questions session. Cllr Hayfield was asked about the process for submitting business cases, and whether communities could have longer to complete them. Although the deadline for submissions is 9 June 2011 – the end of the libraries consultation – Cllr Hayfield said community groups would be given more time to complete their business plans, if needed, with help from library staff.
Other questions were about ongoing support for community-run library projects, which will include stock and IT services, access to the county library management system for processing loans, reservations and returns, a telephone helpline, and regular visits from library staff.
Meanwhile the Warwickshire Library and Information Service consultation on proposals for the future of the service continues until Thursday, and all consultation feedback received by June 9 will be analysed and reported to Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet in July. The report will be made public at the same time. Councillors will consider the contents before making any final decisions on the future of the library service.
More information, along with the library consultation questionnaire, is available in all Warwickshire libraries and online at: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/facingthechallenge