Library Community Support Officer Ian Burley gave a presentation at the Tamworth Earliest Help Showcase Event at Tamworth Enterprise College on Monday 16th October at 10am. Earliest Help is about helping children and families when issues first arise and Staffordshire County Council see this as a priority. Ian spoke about the role that our Community Managed Libraries do to contribute towards Earliest Help, with specific reference to the wonderful work that the volunteers at Glascote Community Managed Library are doing. Examples included the Summer Reading Challenge, the story sessions that take place at the library, the new Job Club and IT Courses, and the wonderful effect that reading for pleasure has on an individual’s mental health.
This event was a great opportunity to showcase to around 80 organisations the great work that Staffordshire Community Managed Libraries are doing to support the Earliest Help Initiative.
In September 2016 Great Wyrley Library transferred from Staffordshire County Council (SCC) management to the umbrella of local business Catherine Care. They offer a wide range of services for adults with learning disabilities and recognise the value of the library service in strengthening and complementing what the local community offers.
On Saturday 21st October I attended the Holly Bush Garden Centre near Cheslyn Hay with staff from Catherine Care. The aim was to raise awareness with the public of the working partnership between Catherine Care and Staffordshire County Council and also to recruit more library volunteers. It was a very blustery day but the garden centre was busy and 200 leaflets were given out to people who were interested to know what was happening with local libraries.
This was a good opportunity for me to work in partnership with Catherine Care and a positive start to being part of that new partnership team. The day helped raise the profile of Community Managed libraries with the public and demonstrated that SCC are working in different ways and with different partners to keep libraries open in their local community.
Effective Volunteer Management Training Day was held at the Northfield Centre in Stafford on 12th October 2017. The day was facilitated by Support Staffordshire and attended by the South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) Community Managed Libraries Coordinator, representation from other Community Library partners, as well as library volunteers and Library Volunteer Coordinators; I also attended together with another Community Support Officer. I was pleased to see attendance from Norton Canes, Hednesford and Great Wyrley Community Managed Libraries. The day was informative and appropriate, and was a great opportunity for sharing good practice.
I found the training has helped me to develop a better understanding of what good volunteer management looks like. It was valuable in that it gave a good overall context with useful guidance notes to support volunteer recruitment and retention.
Volunteers in the Cannock Community Managed Libraries got into the mood for Halloween with spooky library displays at all the libraries. Drop-in Craft Sessions for children were held throughout the week at Norton Canes Community Managed Library. The children were invited to create spooky pictures with spiders and ghosts which were put on display in the library.
Volunteers at Brereton Library dressed for the occasion and became witches and ghouls as they delivered a Children’s Story and Craft Session which was attended by 12 children.
The Community Managed Libraries are now feeling confident to take ownership for activities in their libraries. The volunteers are coming up with ideas and then planning and delivering events. It shows that they are keen to be happening places within the community.
Recently I have been working with colleagues to recruit volunteers for a future community managed library. As part of this I have been tracking where expressions of interest in library volunteering have come from.
We have delivered flyers in the local area and spoke to people about our volunteering opportunities and 10 people said they had found out about volunteering this way. 6 people found out via library promotional events and 5 people had read an article in a local community magazine. In addition, 4 people had seen an advert that we had placed on the Indeed recruitment website, 1 person from a display in the local market and 1 person was signposted to us from the local Job Centre.
This gives valuable information about what has proved successful in terms of volunteer recruitment for future campaigns that need to be undertaken. It has also highlighted how important it is to carry out a wide range of different promotional activities in order to maximise our chances of recruiting volunteers.
On Thursday 12 October, Beryl Holt, Chair of Berkswich History Society gave a fascinating talk based on her book “A Long Slow Walk from the Station, The Story of Brocton Prisoner of War Camp 1917 – 1919”.
We found out how the Commandant’s family came to live at Brocton Hall, about the everyday life of the prisoners and staff as well as stories of escapes and recaptures! One of our customers said “It was a really entertaining talk and so interesting to find out more about my local area.”
The volunteers arranged the event so they were taking part in the celebrations for the Staffordshire History Festival, and it was well attended by 20 people. This was the first evening event that had been held at the library since the transfer to community management, so it gave the volunteers experience and confidence in running activities, whilst showing that the library is a venue for interesting events for local people.
During the October holidays the ‘Paint a moneybox event’ at Werrington Community Managed Library proved so popular that the group was split up so that everyone had a chance of painting something on the day. 31 children plus their mums were accommodated and much fun was had by all. Here are some of the comments on the day. “We had a fabulous time. There was a great selection of paints and it was lovely being with other children. The staff are very friendly and helpful and looked after us.” “Fabulous morning organised by Carolyn and Nicky. Lily really enjoyed making her money box. Well done to all the volunteers at Werrington Library.”
The community are really appreciative of having somewhere to take their children in the half term holidays that is local and low cost. The library benefits from lots of new people visiting the library and the volunteers are able to foster good relationships with the public and their families.
Perton Library promoted Get Online Week in spectacular fashion in early October. Get Online Week is a national campaign to help encourage more people to get the most out of the Internet. Using funding sourced by our Stock, Services and Activities Officer, staff and volunteers delivered 2 days of fun-filled action.
The ‘Try 1 Thing’ taster day saw drop in sessions on accessing the library’s e-services and online resources, how to use technology such as tablets and e-readers, how to navigate websites including ‘Learn My Way’, the Faulkes Telescope resource, ‘Newsbank’ and ‘Ancestry’ and how to get the most from social media.
The ‘Techy Tea Party’ was an afternoon of tea, cake and an opportunity to informally engage with get Online Week. There were lots of demonstrations of library e-services, using social media and beginners’ guides to websites and everyone who came along received a goody bag filled with information and IT gifts to get them started.
Over 350 people attended Perton Library across the 2 days, engaging with the activities and drop-ins and 100 goody bags were given out. The great group of volunteers at Perton are committed to helping out at one of our County Managed Libraries and they played an integral part in not only delivering the sessions but helping with refreshments and clearing up. The range, quality and quantity events could not have happened without their support and they have helped to highlight digital inclusion to their local community.
Photos show some of the activities and IT Buddy Doug promoting Get Online Week
I recently went along to a Recruitment Fair held at Wolverhampton University to promote our volunteer opportunities further afield. It was a great chance to showcase the different volunteer roles we have and to a new target audience. I even managed to Tweet about the day. There were lots of other organisations there looking to recruit volunteers and it was really useful to network and share ideas, discussing any possible partnerships.
I had 5 expressions of interest from students, and spoke to many other delegates to share best practice about a range of things including application forms, publicity and promotion and community managed libraries.
Photo shows me and my stall
Glascote Library has now been a Community Managed Library under the umbrella South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust for over a year. Based on feedback from library users, the volunteers at the library were keen to start running IT courses at the library. County Council staff from Adult and Community Learning (ACL) have now started running basic IT courses at the library, with 5 people attending the first course. Feedback has been excellent.
With the success of this first IT course at Glascote Community Managed Library, other IT courses from ACL may well follow at the same venue. In addition to helping local people to learn new skills, it also showcases the library as a true community hub.