Two volunteers, Carolyn and Nicky at Werrington Community Library have been instrumental in organising this year’s Summer Reading Game Activities. They can be seen in the picture on the left. Children in Werrington could take part in 2 craft events either Paint a Door Hanger on 15th August or Paint a Cress pot on 22nd August. As Animal Agents was this year’s theme the library invited Animal Magic people to bring along their creatures, great and small! The children loved seeing the animals, here is a comment from a member of the public, “The children enjoyed the selection of animals and being able to hold and stroke them. It was value for money. They also enjoyed the craft session after. Well done and thank you to all the volunteers who organised it.”
The Library Service has gained lots of visits and families appreciated a local, low cost event and the chance to experience something new. For me, it is great to see two volunteers develop and take on extra responsibilities, they came up with the ideas, events and filled up the places on offer. As our own staff know, sorting out risk assessments is no mean feat but with the added unpredictability of animals it was more of a challenge!
The Blythe Centre Community Managed Library has been offering families the opportunity to drop in and choose a craft activity to do over the summer holidays. All the materials are provided at the library, children can pick from either painting a pot, making a key ring or a money box. The volunteers also worked with the local churches to offer bookable planned activity sessions such as the Mini Beast session at the end of August.
- Family First Aid – Life-saving CPR and how to tackle bites and allergies will be covered during the 2 sessions.
- Poet and author, Mel Woodend is sharing her poetry and offered 2 fun activities for youngsters on Friday 11th August.
- Family French for Fun is a fantastic way to introduce French to children too. The range of activities is fabulous, as the usual chess and coding club session are still happening. Talk about spoilt for choice!
The library volunteers are working with the local community to find out what events they would like to see in the library. Parents appreciate the children’s craft drop in sessions as they cannot always make a planned event. When the weather is bad a trip to the library will entertain most children, with different crafts to try too, it will keep families coming back. The diverse range of things on offer means Blythe appeals to wide ranging audience. It can entice new people to visit and it can promote the Summer Reading Game too.
Helen Bickerton, Community Managed Library Volunteer and Library Manager, was able to highlight the fantastic range of activities and events at Blythe Bridge Library when she talked to Radio Stoke on Saturday morning, on 9th September. Helen manages one of the first Community Libraries to be run by volunteers in Staffordshire. Blythe has a coffee machine, chess and coding clubs and cultural evenings once a month which have ranged from wine tasting to a theatre production of “the Quilter and the Ghost.“
From Helen’s experience, volunteers have brought a huge range of skills and expertise to the counter at Blythe. Volunteers have benefited too, they feel more they have more purpose in life and have enjoyed learning how the library works and how to operate the library system.
Blythe has gained from the valuable publicity and exposure talking on the radio brings. It has raised its profile and will encourage more people to start volunteering and visiting the library.
Staffordshire Library Service was recently involved in a pilot volunteer training project and Julie, one of our volunteers at Brewood Community Library, agreed to take part.
Julie worked through 4 modules about ‘Making the most of your Library’, looking at presentation of stock and how to engage with customers in conversations about reading.
Julie says “It was quite challenging but I enjoyed doing the pilot as it did make me stand back and look at the library with fresh eyes”
As a result of the training, Julie gained valuable experience she can share with others, has the confidence to produce some fabulous displays and was able to feedback as part of the evaluation to develop the project further to benefit more volunteers in the future.
Photos show some of Julie’s displays in Brewood Community Library
It’s great to see South Staffordshire Health Walks continuing in our Community Managed Libraries. Both Brewood and Kinver Community Libraries have recently hosted the popular health walks which are organised by Staffordshire County Library staff and delivered with volunteers from other libraries.
The walks, which start and end at the library, collectively saw 35 new people through the doors of Brewood and Kinver Community Libraries. The events are a great opportunity to meet volunteers from other libraries and certainly support the ethos regarding physical activity and well-being of our partner organisation at Brewood, South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT).
Photo shows the walkers enjoying a well-earned cuppa at Brewood Community Managed Library.
As an update on a previous blog in June, Brewood has been named as the winner of the ‘Best Kept Large Village in South Staffordshire’.
Brewood Community Managed Library became one of the focal points during the competition, positively promoting community spirit and has also received a ‘Highly Commended’ award from the local Civic Society for their front garden floral display. Well done to all the volunteers who generously gave their time to making sure the library’s outside space contributed to the village’s success.
Photos show the certificate of achievement, certificate of commendation and the floral tubs.
Ian Burley, Community Support Officer for South East Staffordshire Libraries, is involved in a project to improve community engagement in Shobnall Ward, Burton-upon-Trent. 2 Community Fun Days have so far taken place in Shobnall, with hundreds of people attending, and a third is planned for later in the year. ESOL courses (English for Speakers of Other Languages) have been set up at Princess Street Community Centre, volunteering roles found for several local people and an information flyer for the local community is also planned. Other partners involved in the project include Burton Albion Community Trust, Support Staffordshire, East Staffs Borough Council, Shobnall Parish Council and Burton and South Derbyshire College.
Ian says “Libraries can play a vital part in supporting local communities and helping to strengthen community engagement. I am really heartened that people have been coming out in numbers to attend the local Fun Days and that we are helping people to improve their skills and find volunteering roles. Working with a range of partners has also been a very interesting and rewarding experience”.
Some of the Library Volunteers from Glascote Community Managed Library have formed a pub quiz team. This began at the start of 2017 and the team regularly attend quizzes at a nearby pub in Amington. In addition to having fun nights out, the volunteers have also been able to show off their intellectual skills, and recently won one of the quiz nights.
The Social side of volunteering should not be overlooked. Many volunteering roles enable you to meet new friends and find new interests. By forming a quiz team the Glascote Library Volunteers have shown a good example of what can happen as a result.
Library Volunteers at Barton Library have been busy promoting the Summer Reading Challenge in the library and at local schools. Last year some of the volunteers went along with Library staff to watch them talk to children at local schools about the challenge, which asks children to read 6 books over the summer. This year the volunteers have done it all themselves, including visiting the local schools and organizing a range of events and activities, including craft activities and a Lego Play and Stay session.
The volunteers are embedding the Community Managed Library as a focal point of learning and fun in the local area. It has been proven that children who keep up with their reading over the summer give themselves a head start when returning to school in September, so the strong showing of Barton Library with the Summer Reading Challenge will support local children with their education in the long term.
Hednesford Library will be hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning on Friday 29th October 10am.
Norton Canes Library has launched a new sewing group “In stitches” running every Tuesday 11-1pm, home crafts, specialised gifts and up cycling. Ask at Norton Canes library for more information.
Libraries get ready for Halloween, demonstrating volunteers flair for display and promoting good reads
Planning and delivering events shows that the volunteers are gaining confidence and embracing and developing the library service and its role in the community.