Beano Bonanza – It’s Dennis Time!

Keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot Dennis in YOUR local library!

The Community Managed Libraries worked hard to prepare for the launch of The Reading Agency’s National Summer Reading Challenge (SRC). This year the theme is Mischief Makers, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the much-loved comic, Beano. The Summer Reading Challenge is a national initiative that encourages children to read six books during the long summer holiday.

Several volunteers attended the countywide training sessions and since then have been sharing this training with other volunteers. Displays have been created and activities planned.

Promotion for the Summer Reading Challenge got off to a flying start at Brewood Community Managed Library as they hosted 2 days of class visits to local primary schools. Over 240 children visited the library to hear all about the Summer Reading Challenge so we hope to see them in the library again over the holidays. Volunteers have also produced a fabulous display in the library, organised a varied programme events and the Volunteer Coordinator has been out to another school to deliver an assembly to over 70 children to promote the Challenge and reading for pleasure.

So What?

It’s great to see how our Community Managed Libraries have really embraced the SRC, which is a fun way of helping children to maintain their reading levels during the school holidays.

Werrington Sensory Garden Complete!

Werrington Community Managed Library were fortunate to be successful when applying to ASDA for their Community Help Scheme. I was tasked with the job of co-ordinating the various agencies involved which included, our Property Team, The Youth Offending Institute and Kinetics, who took responsibility for managing it. ASDA’s remit is very much in the style of Changing Rooms and Groundforce all rolled into one. The project is completed in one day, so all the preparation and planning needs to be completed in readiness, with nothing left to chance. The ASDA Team are drawn in from all over and were supported by the Young Offenders Institute volunteers. Time was allocated to refresh the Work Room Office with a lick of paint too. Another room to be cleared! As you can see from the Photograph, the group have sited two beautifully crafted wooden benches and have now planted up the area, complete with a very apt statue, pride of place in the centre.

So What?

Being involved in the planning of this special project has taught me many new skills and is a really good example of what a Community Managed Library can achieve in a short space of time. The meetings and planning beforehand ensured that things ran smoothly on the day everyone descended and the volunteers from the Werrington Community Volunteers Group were really appreciative of the support from all the agencies. We couldn’t have done it without them!

Blythe Breaks New ground with The Roots Festival

On Saturday 16th of June 14 local authors and one publisher came together for the first ever Fringe event of the Emma Bridgewater’s, ‘Festival in a Factory.’ Over 220 visitors came on the day, an increase of 132%. The author’s books showed the range of genres on offer from historical, general fiction, sport, crime and younger and older children’s stories.

The authors present were

Chris Boult, Lee Crowther, Peter Hooper (Cox Bank Publishing and editor of the books: “Splash!”, “‘Arf Marathon”, “Potter’s ‘Arf Marathon” and “Sporting Stories”); Roger Horwood, whose book, “Just A Face In The Crowd”, spans over half a century of stories about Stoke City FC; Mackenzie Keeble, Anouska (Erin) Knight, Esther Lawson, Mary Mae Lewis (author of the fiction book “Where There’s A Will, There’s A Woman”); D.T. Lewis-Doyle (author of the adult book ”The Black Orchid”); Penny Meakin, Sarah Elizabeth Northwood (author of the children’s book “Aerwyn: The Girl Who Dreams”); George Rosling, Matt Sparrow (author of the children’s book “The Forest Giant”); Kathy Tallentire (author of the children’s book “Nana Duck”) and Harry J. Tomkinson (historian and author of “Treachery At Bosworth Field 1485”).


So What?

The Blythe Centre responded to a request from a local author – “The Festival is great, bringing big name authors to the area but what about local authors, what are libraries doing to support us?” Helen Bickerton, Chairperson of the committee organised all this in just over a month.

A review?

“Well done, nice mix of genres and interesting to talk to the authors” and “Really enjoyed this event but 3 books so far.”

***** Five Stars!!

Raiders of the Lost Archives

After discovering that a local college no longer ran Family History courses, Kinver Community Managed Library decided to host their own. Fortunately one of our volunteers is also a tutor in that very subject and was happy to offer her services. She ran 6 sessions to 6 willing learners using many of the library service’s online resources, including Ancestry and Find my Past.

So What?

By utilising the library out of hours, the Community Managed Library have filled a gap in the market, generated income, increased the usage of the online subscription sites and public access PCs in the library and gained new members. Despite some technical issues, the course was a resounding success and will definitely be repeated in the autumn.

Young Teen Fiction Flying High at Cosford

Staffordshire’s Young Teen Fiction (YTF) Book Award takes place every year over several months and is for KS3 pupils, who live or go to school in Staffordshire, or who use Staffordshire Library Services. It aims to encourage young people to engage with an assortment of fiction and nominate titles they have enjoyed, culminating in a fabulous celebration event to announce the winner. This year’s venue was the RAF Museum, Cosford which played host to over 120 students and 30 teaching staff from 14 Staffordshire schools and delivered 2 author talks, book signings, a treasure hunt and a very lively quiz between schools.

So What?

Surrounded by a fantastic display of aircraft and exhibits, my role was to coordinate and support the 7 volunteers from both Community Managed and County Managed Libraries who had come along to help. They issued over 20 library books, organised the schools’ lunches, assisted at the book stall and distributed refreshments, highlighting the great opportunity for schools, libraries and volunteers to work together while promoting a love of reading to a very hard to reach audience

Putting Holmcroft Community Managed Library on the Map!

During a meeting with Councillor Jonathan Price about a potential new play park next to Holmcroft Community Managed Library, we discussed opportunities to promote the library to the local community.

Councillor Price kindly agreed to deliver 2,500 leaflets promoting the library, alongside a leaflet drop for the play park, to local homes!

So What?

This was a wonderful opportunity to get information about the library, and its services and events, to local people. This also raised the profile of volunteering at Holmcroft Community Managed Library, and resulted in 6 people expressing an interest in volunteering in the future. This is also an excellent example of partnership working.

Showcasing Library Volunteering

Two great opportunities arose over the last month to promote our Community Managed Libraries and our volunteering offer.

Community Support Officer, Helen Farr, was invited to attend the Stafford Earliest Help Showcase Event – the aim of this event was to give local organisations the opportunity to showcase the differences they and their volunteers are making to peoples’ lives on a daily basis.

Earliest Help is about working with members of the community to offer the right support at an early stage, before a small need becomes a bigger one. Libraries are well placed to help with this; they provide a safe, social environment for people to participate in activities and feel connected to their community. Our volunteers also tell us that volunteering at the library does help with their overall well-being.

I also provided volunteering publicity to feature at the National Employment and Careers Fair aimed at the Armed Forces Community at the County Showground.

So What?

These events were an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that our Community Managed Libraries are doing for their local communities. The Earliest Help event enabled me to discover what other groups there are in the Stafford area, and what their remit is for future partnerships, and the Careers Fair was an opportunity to promote library volunteering to a new group of people.

It’s in the Bag

Volunteers from Brereton Community Managed Library joined members of Rugeley Rotary to help with the bag packing for the recent Staffordshire Ironman event. As well as being enjoyable and meeting new people, the event raised £220 for the library’s income which has helped to pay for a newly purchased gazebo.

So What?

This shows great community spirit, partnership working and team building, building resilience and sustainability.

Relax in Norton Canes Zen Garden

Following essential drain repair work the front garden area outside Norton Canes Community Managed Library where the ground had been dug up the once garden needed re-landscaping.

Never daunted the library volunteers rallied to find a solution and secured a donation from local business Ranton Building Suppliers, Norton Canes; who donated all the hard landscaping, weed membrane gravel, cobbles and black slate.

The hard work was done by volunteer Val and her husband Bern and it has been named the Zen Garden, as they felt it sounded peaceful and have since received comments of agreement from members of the public who have taken a moment to sit on the nearby bench and reflect.

So What?

The Garden provides a welcome space for people to rest a while supporting their wellbeing. This project shows how resourceful the volunteers are and demonstrates the strength of a community working together to get results.