Local communities have been involved in supporting and developing their local libraries through the Community Partnership initiative. Several of the schemes have been rolled out across smaller libraries, including: Burton Joyce, Stapleford, Farnsfield, Selston and Eastwood.
The scheme is encouraging new partnerships with parish councils and volunteers in these areas to encourage greater community involvement with these valuable assets. Communities have been supporting professional library staff to increase the benefits of local libraries to create a service that works for the individual community it serves.
In Burton Joyce volunteers have been actively enhancing the core library service. The 9 volunteers have been supporting staff to keep the library open for an additional 7.5 hours a week.
Volunteering, an insider's view:
Like many others in my village of Burton Joyce, I felt passionate about the future of its library. When I heard that the only way the library would be able to survive the cuts to its opening hours was through volunteers, I was keen to help.
So, a couple of months on, do I feel that we, the volunteers, are making a difference?
Well yes, if I look at the brand new sign outside the library displaying its new and extended opening hours. And yes too, when I welcome each Monday a little girl and her Dad who come 'especially for that lady to read me a story'. And yes again when I showed a man how to open a Word document and send it as an attachment on an e-mail. My grown up children would be startled to learn that my limited IT skills could be of use to others!
But a big "not yet" in encouraging more Burton Joyce residents to visit and use the library. That is the harder part and I am working with Gill Rockett and Kath Loverseed to plan a programme of activities to try to do just that. Our first event is planned for October and we have sent a letter to all village organisations, inviting a representative to come along to an Open Evening to launch the new opening hours, the new look library and to find out from them how the library can help their organisation. We plan to follow this with Christmas Readings and Mince Pies, an event for those belonging to or interested in starting a Reading Group, as well as activities for children.
As a volunteer, I can only offer my time and enthusiasm and I am very aware of trying not to tread on the toes of the qualified staff, but so far I have been made to feel very valued by them. I am sure they know only too well, that if we do not find a way of bringing more people through the door, none of us will have the libraries we so love.
Volunteer Library Ambassador, Burton Joyce.