Memorial Stone laid in honour of Sgt Ernest Egerton, VC outside the Blythe Centre

Blythe Bride, Forsbrook and Dilhorne Historical Society paid tribute to Sgt Egerton on 20th September, exactly 100 years after the Victoria Cross winner’s act of bravery. A commemorate stone was laid outside the Blythe Centre and there was a Service of Dedication at St Peter’s Church for family members. The Victoria Cross was also proudly displayed in the library, for all to see. The event was attended by over 100 people.

So What?

The Blythe Centre was transformed into beautiful venue to host the Afternoon Tea for the family, invited guests and Civic Dignitaries after the ceremony. The Library gained excellent publicity and showed the venue is ideal for community celebrations like this. Extra people were accommodated late on the actual day and everyone thanked the volunteers for their support and hostess skills, a successful day people will long remember. To show his appreciation, Levison Wood, the co-ordinator, treated the volunteers to a champagne toast at the end of the day!

Marvellous Make Over at Brewood

Following a successful funding bid sourced by our Volunteer Coordinator, volunteers have re-vamped the children’s library at Brewood. By rearranging the book stock, removing a bay of shelving and adding some colourful new furniture, the children’s area has become a bright, open space that has caused quite a stir with some of our younger customers. Some of the reactions have included “I want to live here – I love it!”, “I really love the wall and want to borrow all of the books” and “This is super – so much better”. Some of the mums also commented “Very impressive!” and “I can watch my kids while reading myself”.

So What?

Volunteers are able to access funding to develop their own ideas to reflect the needs of their community. They have worked together to create a flexible and welcoming space that has the potential to host other activities while showcasing the book stock available.

Photos show the new look children’s area

Exploring Opportunities

As part of my role as a Community Support Officer (CSO), I try to identify opportunities and alternative ways of working, both individually and as part of our team. While supporting another CSO in a different area, we looked at new ideas to promote volunteer recruitment which resulted in a morning on an indoor market stall speaking directly to people about our libraries and highlighting the volunteer offer. I also recently received a last minute invite to attend an evening meeting hosted by Wombourne Advisory Committee. The meeting brought together many local community groups and individuals, including County Councillor Mike Davis and I gave an impromptu talk about libraries and building volunteer capacity which hopefully will lead to working together in the local area.

Photo shows our Market stall

So What?

By working together with other CSOs I can get a better understanding of other areas which strengthens us as a team and by being flexible I have raised the profile of libraries in a variety of settings.

Summer Holiday Success at Brewood and Kinver CMLs

Both Brewood and Kinver Community Libraries embraced the Summer Reading Challenge over the school holidays, needing more materials than anticipated and also hosted a variety of fun activities to keep local children occupied over the 6 weeks. Brewood volunteers delivered Animal Agents themed crafts and had other exciting sessions from Mad Science and interactive Minecraft and Pokemon events. Kinver volunteers also delivered craft sessions and an intergenerational family history activity using online resources and hosted a variety of events in partnership with Birmingham Science Museum Think Tank. ‘Amazing Bodies’, ‘Fabulous Forces’ and ‘Space’ were all explored in the library and the sold out ‘Night Space Dome’ shows in the pop up planetarium set up in a local village hall were a resounding success.

So What?

By introducing different and new types of activities the libraries can attract a wider audience. Brewood Library engaged with nearly 80 children during their holiday activities while Kinver saw 145 children and 86 adults taking part in sessions both in the library and outside. By hosting some events at a venue outside the library, Kinver also certainly raised their profile in the wider community too.

Photos show the Kinver summer programme and the family history session

News From the Friends Group at Leek

The Friends Group at Leek Library have been meeting for over six months now. Led by CSO Michelle Jackson, the group have been discussing what activities and events that they would like to see in the library. Two new Friends Members mentioned their IT skills and have now been trained in our Data Protection and Information Governance policies. They have been offering 1-1 IT Buddy sessions to members of the public in Leek. IT Buddy, Sheila Turner, says, “A gentleman only wanted to learn how to use his Smartphone, 2 sessions later, after trying some web browsing, he noticed the Ancestry website on our computers. He was thrilled to hear it was free! He also started looking up some authors and genres he could try on our library catalogue.”

So What?

As the CSO for Leek I have loved meeting the different people at the Friends meetings. Most are happy to pass on their skills and experience and enjoy sharing their knowledge. Staff would love to sit down with someone and show them everything the library has to offer but are often too busy serving the next customers. It is great that Sheila can spend time with people encouraging them to have a go and explore what’s available. The Friends have helped promote the library for us in other ways too, by taking out posters and having a stand at the U3A enrolment days. They are brilliant advocates for us.

Loggerheads Library Goes Live as a Community Managed Library

Loggerheads is the latest library to transfer to community management merging it’s services with the functions of the Information Shop to deliver a combined offer to the community.

The initial support from the local community has been fantastic and there are currently 15 volunteers who are not only doing an excellent job delivering the library service but have even been able to increase the opening hours by 3 hours per week.

The library itself has also undergone a transformation and there is now a seating area where people can relax with a book or just stop for a chat.  This also provides a space for the library to be used out of hours for local groups who are looking for a place to meet.

We’re really excited as much more is planned for the future at Loggerheads Community Managed Library, so please watch this space!

So What?

This is another excellent example of the community coming together to develop a service that is essential to Loggerheads and the surrounding area.

Usage Increases at Silverdale Community Managed Library

Silverdale Community Managed Library is celebrating it’s success as the library has seen stock issues, visits and new members increase in the last quarter in comparison with the same period last year.

Business Enterprise Support who manage the Community Managed Library at Silverdale have developed a number of new groups including the new Baby Bounce and Rhyme Session which provides a welcoming, friendly activity for families and promotes early language and literacy for pre-school children as well as the opportunity to borrow books and develop a lifelong love of reading.

They have also hosted one off events, promoted their meeting rooms for use by the community and have a new job club.

BES have also been working with local primary schools, encouraging the children to visit the library and participate in the summer reading challenge and by offering the opportunity classes to visit the library during term time.

So What?

This is an excellent example of the Community Managed Library identifying the needs within their community to offer an excellent service that the people want to use.

Volunteer Training Support in Community Managed Libraries

An important part of the role of the Community Support Officer is to train library volunteers so they feel confident in their own ability to deliver the service in a Community Managed Library.

We deliver training in a variety of ways, sometimes it might be more appropriate to run classroom type training if we are talking about the library offer or running computer based training prior to library transfer.  In the first couple of weeks after the library has transferred we work alongside the volunteers to support them when they are starting to deliver the service to the public.  This ‘shadow training’ enables the volunteers to understand the day to day operation of the library and use their new skills while being confident that they have someone on hand to support them where necessary.

So What?

Training with volunteers ensures that they feel confident enough to deliver a library service in their Community Managed Library that they feel proud of. It is also an excellent time to get to know volunteers more and forge a supportive relationship.

Home Readers Double at Werrington Library

Two volunteers in Werrington, Maria and Jean have been out and about promoting our Home Reader Service. Anyone who is unable to visit the library can request a collection of books or talking books to listen to and a volunteer will deliver them to their home address. Maria and Jean also visited a retirement village, Bagnall Heights and Ash Hall Nursing Home. Readers can request books to their particular taste whether it be Crime, Romance or Horror. The books are issued for 3 months, in case a volunteer cannot make the next delivery or if the person is in hospital, either way, fines do not accrue. Anyone who is Blind or Partially sighted can receive the Talking Books for free!

So What?

The volunteers have increased the number of Home Readers from 8 to 20! Readers can continue their passion for reading which increases our monthly issues. Werrington CML produce a Magazine called Village Life and the advert, which was free, about the Home Reader Service encouraged more people to join up too.

MacMillan Coffee Morning at Glascote Community Managed Library

Glascote Library held a MacMillan Coffee Morning on Thursday September 28th. The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer. People from all over the UK host their own Coffee Mornings and donations on the day are made to Macmillan. In 2016 £29.5 million was raised it is hoped that this figured will be surpassed this year.

So What?

This promotes the library as a community hub where health plays a vital part, feeding in to the vision of Staffordshire County Council