Following the recent transfer of Knutton Library to Community Management it was a cracking Easter for all concerned as the library ran its first series of craft activities throughout the holidays for local families.
During the Easter School Holidays the Community Library saw 46 children plus parents come in to take part in the craft activity. At one point there were 13 people taking part, with School and Community Librarian Thomas Brittain joking – ‘…it was so busy in our little library we couldn’t move for people’.
There was lots of positive feedback for an initiative that shows what a valuable resource for the whole community.
It has also highlighted how positive promotion can influence the success of events, with one of the library volunteers going out at School hometime in the week before Easter telling parents about the event and handing out flyers.
This illustrates how the library has reached out to the community new ways this Easter, directly in response to the community feedback that we had previously obtained. This has been down to the guidance of the partner organization Knutton St Mary’s C of E Primary Academy, but also the initiative and enthusiasm of the volunteers involved. This has culminated in a very successful set of events that will help to publicise the Community Managed Library in Knutton.
The group had received some comments from customers requesting the library to be open on Friday mornings. Following a period of consultation the library is not only open on a Friday morning but for an extra half and hour to also cover the afternoon.
The Community Library is a resource that responds to community feedback to provide a service that is relevant to the people of Silverdale. This highlights the excellent work that BES are doing in the community, that they are not only developing links with local organisations, but also responding to the views of the library users as well.
In the past few months Libraries Community Support Officer Helen Farr has showed two new colleagues around the community libraries in the Stafford area to explain the community managed library model, so they could see it operating in practice and to give them the opportunity to talk to some of our volunteers.
One colleague was a new member of Libraries staff, while the second was a member of Staffordshire County Council Staff from the Transformation Support Unit. It gave us an ideal opportunity to showcase the Community Managed Libraries to a member of staff from another department.
One of staff members said
“Helen really helped me understand how our services have adapted in recent years, to truly become Community Hubs. She showed me first-hand how volunteers live and breathe their local community, as well as how our partnerships/services operate. It was hugely insightful and helped me understand the County Council through a lens outside the office environment.”
Library Community Support Officer Ian Burley attended the second East Staffordshire Placed Based Approach Event at Burton Town Hall. The event was held for all local partners who are working together as part of the Staffordshire Families Strategic Partnership to improve outcomes for the children, families and vulnerable people of East Staffordshire. The work is a natural progression of the work to date through Building Resilient Families and Communities (BRFC). Following on from the work in Shobnall Ward, it has been stated that –
“…the aim as is to design a locally responsive system that is sustainable and fit for the future. One that is; predictive rather than reactive, that is based on early intervention and prevention reducing referrals to higher tier interventions, that takes demand out of the system for all partners and is evidenced based, addressing local needs and building on community assets”
With around 40 people in attendance, this event was a great opportunity to discuss and build upon so much of the good work already happening across a range of providers within East Staffordshire, allowing those attending to meet new contacts and strengthen existing ones. Further events are planned.
Children from Cheslyn Hay nursery visited the library for story time with Kerry Hutchings, Libraries Stock Services and Activities Officer. A group of 20 under 3 year olds came to visit the library from their adjoining nursery to listen to stories and sing rhymes. It was great to have this contact with the nursery and to see and hear the children enjoying their library visit.
Such events help to promote the library as key community location that is welcoming to all and supports community groups and activities, as well as promoting the library to the parents of the children visiting.
Enjoying stories and rhymes helps to support early child development through listening and participation skills and help to nurture the love of books and stories with young children. It also introduces the valuable local resource of a library to a new generation of library users.
Brereton library hosted a more unusual craft session – IRIS paper folding. This is a paper craft technique that involves folding strips of coloured paper to create a design. The centre of the design resembles a camera lens or eye iris. The technique at first appears complicated but with clear guidance the group completed their designs with great accomplishment. The session attended by 9 people was born out of conversation at the newly formed Knit and Natter Group, chatting about crafts that they had tried and enjoyed and then deciding to offer a more specialised session to learn and share skills.
An events programme helps to attract new audiences and more library users. It helps enhance the volunteer experience, through socialisation and building confidence by enabling them to both share and learn new skills. By making a small charges to cover material costs it helps to sustain an events programme and supports income generation.
We have been looking to future in Newcastle Library this month, and have been thinking ahead to the move into Castle House. Castle House will be a multi-agency building in Newcastle town centre that will include not only the library but many other local services like Aspire Housing, Newcastle Borough Council, Police, Registrars, and Families First.
We know how valuable the support of a Library Friends Group can be and I want this to be up and running as soon as possible to contribute to the success of the new library. A library Friends Group will help to embed the new library into the community, showcase what can be done and support any new initiatives that can be developed. There have been many new Friends Groups developed elsewhere in the county, and are proving to be excellent advocates for libraries in the local communities.
With the development of a new modern library in Newcastle town with many new facilities and services available. A Friends Group will be an excellent way to, not only spread the word, but further develop the service in the community. This will allow the library further community focus, support the staff in their delivery of the service and act as advocates.