Despite transferring only 6 months ago, Volunteers at Penkridge Community Managed Library were keen to see how their customers felt the new delivery of service was going. After designing a quick and easy feedback form, over 10 responses have come back so far, including a lovely ‘Thank you’ card for 2 volunteers in particular.
The team of volunteers are enthusiastic, committed to providing an excellent service and are already looking for feedback and suggestions to develop further. The responses highlight the overwhelming support for them and here are a few examples of the positive comments received.
“Much to my joy, the changeover has been super – you have been wonderful and so helpful”
“Friendly and efficient”
“You have both (Louise and Sue) been wonderful in helping me find the books and ordering them for me”
For over 3 decades, Lions Clubs around the globe have been supporting a very special art contest for young people that encourages them to create posters to express their vision of peace through art. When the local Burntwood branch were looking to have a presentation event for posters produced locally, Norton Canes Community Managed Library was the perfect venue. Volunteer coordinator Val liaised with the Lions representative to create a fabulous display of the entries and 8 ‘Lions’, 16 students and 3 teachers from Norton Canes High School came along, with the winners being congratulated by County Councillor Johnny McMahon.
Fostering great links with other local organisations means that the library is often an obvious choice as a venue for community initiatives and with 125 ‘likes’ on Facebook the event was certainly a ‘roaring’ success.
After hearing about something similar in a library in Iceland, Volunteers at Kinver CML decided to implement a colour coded system to arrange the picture books in the Children’s Library. Notoriously difficult to keep in order and to search for, the picture books were put into rough alphabetical order so they could then be divided between the 4 kinder boxes, which are the freestanding multi compartment boxes where we display picture books. Once this was done, large coloured spotty stickers were placed on all the books to denote where they came in the alphabet and which kinder box they needed to be kept in. A key code poster to help volunteers and library users has been created too.
Volunteers spent less than 2 hours when the library was closed spreading out and rearranging all the picture books. It shows fantastic teamwork and is of great benefit to all the volunteers. The picture books are now easy to keep in relative order and so much easier to look for when requested.
One of the volunteers who helped implement the system says
“It’s superb! It really works and saves so much time searching for books reserved for other libraries”.
Volunteers at Penkridge Community Managed Library entered into the Christmas spirit with gusto. They not only held a Christmas get together at the Haling Dene Centre (the partner organisation venue) where some volunteers met a very special visitor, but also took part in the local church’s Christmas Tree Festival and had a stall at the village Victorian Fair. The library Christmas tree was cleverly designed book case which held baubles with all the volunteers faces on plus book covers showing photos of their journey so far, including training and events they have delivered, as well as a recruitment poster. The volunteers also worked on a rota system to cover the stall on Saturday 7th December, where they sold books, homemade cakes and handmade cards and raised over £150.
Although transferring only in August, volunteers have certainly come together well as a team, meeting regularly, brainstorming ideas and sharing the workload. They have demonstrated great organisational skills and creativity and are already embedding themselves within the community by playing an active role in local events, raising the profile of the library and using these events to promote the volunteer offer.
The Friends of Perton Library Group have gone from strength to strength, being involved with several projects and initiatives over the last few months. They have raised funds to get a new notice board installed for the front of the library building, which is now attracting lots of passers-by and they have successfully applied to the People Power Fund to secure £2,000 to deliver a monthly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) group. Members of the Friends Group worked with the Stock, Services and Activities Officer and the local PCSO to bid for and develop the programme to offer 10 – 15year olds the opportunity to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths topics which now sees at least 12 participants every month. The Friends group have also launched a weekly ‘Places of Welcome’ coffee morning in the library, which provides a place for members of the community to come and see a friendly face and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, attracting on average 8 attendees each week. Both activities allow participants the chance to socialise and meet new people in the safe, friendly environment of the library.
Friends of the Library Groups can make an important contribution to Staffordshire’s libraries by supporting and maintaining awareness of libraries within their local communities and promoting increased use. With over 15 volunteers now supporting the Friends of Perton Library Group, direct outcomes of their activities see at least 40 extra visits each month and the STEM sessions have prompted some great feedback.
“George absolutely loves STEM group. He learns so much, in a fun, interactive way. Everyone who runs the group is friendly and patient with the kids. Since the last STEM session, which was going outside and looking at bugs, George has wanted to go for more walks to tell me about the creepy crawlies. The group is wonderful for the community.”
Kinver Community Library recently played host to a 5-week programme of workshops to promote well-being through creativity. ‘CreateSpace’ is a combined arts project supporting adults to create space for the arts in their everyday lives and has seen professional artists working in seven community venues across the Black Country and Staffordshire. The weekly workshops at Kinver were fully booked with 12 participants, both library users and some who had never visited before, taking part in a variety of activities including lino printing, self portraits and clay modelling.
By offering the library as a venue, volunteers at Kinver Community Library have again proved to be flexible, accommodating and proactive by actively publicising the sessions across the local community. As well as supporting the County Council’s outcomes and the Universal Health Offer, the feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive and following on from the success, another course early in the New Year is planned
“I have enjoyed all of it – every minute! I have learned so much and to be able to dabble into so many art forms has been ecstasy for me. I’ve gained confidence and definitely a sense of wellbeing. Thank you.”
“It helps that it’s here and that it’s local. I wouldn’t have gone through the door of an arts centre – I might do now, but I wouldn’t have a couple of weeks ago. It all seemed conducive to thinking ‘oh, I’m going to do this…”
“I was so buzzing the first time I came here. All the fears of walking in…just disappeared completely once we’d met (professional artists) Kim and Ben, they were so calming, and warm and nurturing, that I felt “oh, this is a really nice place to be”…and then trying something different, apart from all that lovely wellbeing that you got, you felt ‘I’m interested, I’m motivated for the first time.’ I was so glad I came.”
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.
Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Community Managed Libraries win National Award
MPFT in partnership with Staffordshire County Council have won a HSJ Award at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 7/11/19. The Community Managed Libraries project had been shortlisted in the Health and Local Government Partnership Award along with nine other nominees.
The HSJ Awards are the biggest and most prestigious awards for the NHS Sector in the Country.
This is fantastic for everyone involved in project to be recognised nationally for all the hard work that they have put in
After months of community engagement, followed by a programme of intensive training, Penkridge Community Managed Library opened its doors on 12th August becoming the 27th Community Managed Library in Staffordshire. Supported by partner organisation Penkridge Parish Council and 34 enthusiastic volunteers, the first few weeks have been hard work but great fun. Already the volunteers have re-established Baby Bounce and Rhyme for pre-schoolers, hosted a MacMillan Coffee Morning raising over £180 and launched new ‘Pets As Therapy’ sessions that take place every Saturday morning.
The enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteers is already shining through and SCC look forward to supporting them and Penkridge Parish Council in a successful partnership with this exciting new phase of the library.