This is the first blog update following a very busy summer. The Team have successfully transferred a further 5 libraries to community management, which brings the total number of Community Managed Libraries in Staffordshire to 27. We’re really pleased that of the 27 Libraries moved forward into community management, all are staffed by volunteers and delivering Library services to their respective communities.
A huge ‘Thank You’ to all the partner organisations who are supporting the network of Community Managed Libraries across Staffordshire.
We have also said goodbye to one of the Team of Community Support Officers. Cathy Attwood retired in June 2019. Her workload has been divided up amongst the remaining Team.
Library volunteer Bob from Heath Hayes Community Managed Library recognises the personal benefits of walking and has started a regular walking group that sets off and finishes with a cup of tea at the library.
A gentle walk around Heath Hayes, the group of 8 walkers, is very social, enjoying the fresh air and local views with lots of chat.
One volunteer who was so very quiet, suffers from depression and finds interaction difficult. When on the walk she has become more engaged, relaxed and participates in the conversation.
A simple idea with great benefits; healthy gentle exercise, being outdoors and enjoying the countryside, making friends and appreciating the company of others.
Our countywide team of 5 Community Support Officers (CSOs) meet with Community Capacity Manager Chris Plant each month. The CSOs have helped to transfer 27 libraries over to community management over the last 3 years, whilst also significantly helping to increase volunteer numbers in our staffed libraries. These meetings help us to work on the future planning of the library service in respect to volunteers and local communities, whilst also discussing the work we have done in the previous month. As such these meetings are really valuable.
This demonstrates the importance both of team working and sharing good practice. The CSOs are always willing to help and support each other, whilst also learning from all of our experiences.
Trauma Teddies are hand knitted bears that are handed out by Police Officers to comfort upset children when they are called to deal with serious incidents.
The Teddies serve as a simple distraction to help take a child’s focus away from potentially upsetting circumstances and help Police Officers build a relationship and turn the experience into something positive.
The scheme is simple but so successful that it is spreading across the UK.
Hednesford Community Managed Library Knit and Natter group have been busy knitting these teddies and have presented them to the local Police Community Support Officer so that they have a supply when needed.
Once again, we see great Community spirit and caring. As well as being a valuable community initiative to be involved in; Trauma Teddies helps to bring Knitters together with a shared project that they can all contribute to.
Remember the owl sculpture donated to Norton Canes Community Managed Library? It now has a name.
The volunteers got an enthusiastic response to their appeal for residents to “name the owl” and the winning name “OZZY” was drawn by a regular library user.
Eris who suggested the name was presented with a handmade cushion sporting an owl image, made by yet another resident Jean from the library crafty sew and sew group.
Norton Canes Community has demonstrated a wonderful amount of support for the Community Managed library. The volunteers have used imagination and what started as a donation in memory of library users has had lots of spinoffs, keeping interest and promoting the library.
Community Support Officer Cathy Attwood visited Codsall District Council Offices. We delivered a presentation to South Staffordshire District Councillors on the progress of Community Managed Libraries in South Staffordshire. The Community Managed Libraries have now settling after transfer; volunteer confidence has grown and using the rich resource of volunteer skills and ideas and attracting community funding, these libraries are starting to develop as strong community venues offering a wide range of events.
Community Managed Libraries using volunteers to deliver the service is a very different approach taken by Staffordshire County Council but with 22 libraries currently operating in this way has demonstrated that it can be very successful and help to stimulate new activities and uses and act as real community hub.
Memory Baubles was an event organised by the Heart of Hednesford, a community organisation, championing Hednesford and working to encourage more visitors into the town.
The community were invited to write a special message for their Mums on Mother’s Day and put it into a clear bauble, to be hung on ornamental trees and displayed in the community garden outside the library.
Hednesford Community Managed Library promoted the event and acted as one of the venues where people could write their message.
This demonstrates that Hednesford Community Library is recognised as an important venue in the community. The volunteers welcome and support events that help to engage the wider community and play a key part in building community capacity locally.
Rugeley Rotary is the library partner for Brereton Community Managed library.
One of the charities supported by the Rotary is Marie Curie Cancer Care.
This year 2 volunteers from Brereton Community Managed Library put on daffodil hats and joined 3 Rugeley Rotarians to support the fundraising.
Both volunteers said how much they had enjoyed taking part to help such a good cause.
The event raised just under £250 for the charity.
Doing something different can be fun and rewarding, this demonstrates both wider community and partnership working, and jointly raising the profile of both organisations in the community.
Great Wyrley Community Managed Library were happy to receive unrequired shelving from another library to improve stock presentation.
Working with volunteers, Cathy Attwood Community Support Officer helped with the move around, positioning the shelving and putting the books back into place as well as dismantling the old shelving.
The new shelving is on castors so gives flexibility and can be moved which is so important in a small library, the shelves are lower and improve accessibility for customers as well as helping to open the library and make it feel more spacious.
This demonstrates working together and resourcefulness by taking advantage of opportunities as presented for a win win.
The success of the Zen garden at Norton Canes Community Library has resulted in two further donations.
A monetary donation in the autumn was presented to Norton Canes Community Managed Library in memory of a lifetime library user and has been used to purchase a Wooden Owl sculpture that has now also been added to the garden.
This in turn has further inspired a handmade cushion featuring an owl which was made by another library user. This cushion is being used as the prize for a “Name the Owl” competition.
This demonstrates a strong community
Appreciation from library customers gives drive and job satisfaction.
“Outside of the library has had a new look which makes it so inviting it supports the local community and the village would not be the same without it”
The volunteers thrive on such feedback, feeling valued gives them momentum and is the reason that they volunteer at the library.