Hereford Library Users' Group

Entries 2015

Minutes of the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Hereford Library Users Group

The Woolhope Room, Hereford Library,17 March 2015 at 3 p.m.

Present: Gillian Bate, Margaret Brown, Gillian Bulmer, John Eisel, John Faulkner, Joan Grundy, John Hitchin, Charles Kilgour, Jean O’Donell, Hubert Porte, Clare Llewellyn West (RLDG), and others.

Jon Chedgzoy and Jan Nesaratnam represented the library service.

1. Apologies for absence were received from Alexandra allen, Richard Birt, Jan Falkiner, Diana Kelly, Elinor Kelly, Kalyani Menon and John Backhouse from the Hereford Library.

2 the minutes of the meeting of 12 March 2014 were approved.

3. The Chairman pointed out that his report was covered by the February newsletter already sent to members.

4. The Chairman in his capacity as the Treasurer, tabled the accounts, which were approved and signed.

5. The present officers of the User Group were re-elected, there being no other nominations. John Faulkner will therefore continue as the chairman, Hubert Porte, Vice Chairman and John Hitchin as Secretary.

6. There was no other business.

7. The date of the 2016 meeting will be in March, and on a Tuesday, the actual date to be confirmed.

The AGM was followed by a General Meeting.

1. Apologies for absence were as above.

2. The minutes were approved and matters arising were covered in the items below.

3. Jon Chedgzoy reported on the current situation of the Herefordshire library service. The Council was on budget and this included the library service. Next year’s budget had already been set and this proposed a 2% cut in library services which can be absorbed by easily managed economies. But a caveat had to be noted given a possible change of administration with policies as yet unclear. Jon Chedgzoy was able to report on a number of positive developments, notably the remarkable new library in The Old Masters House in Ledbury. Wi-fi was being installed across the county’s libraries and would be universally available except for some odd corners of the Broad Street library where the signal was not strong enough, but this was being looked into. Self Service equipment was currently being installed in libraries across the county, with Hereford by the end of March. He pointed out that this was NOT a measure to make staff savings, but rather to increase efficiency in handling lendings.

Jon reported on the latest annual statistics on libraries published by CIPFA. Subject to a reservation about their accuracy, the county emerged with high user figures per head population (some of the best in the Midlands) and the staffing ratios also high. The drop in user figures for libraries was more noticeable than in previous years, as it was for much of all English authorities, but this was seemed to be a reflection in the drop in opening hours and other limitations on services. NB the apparent sharp drop in overheads for libraries was as a result of the practice of our county following accounting practices in other authorities transferring costs to the general council overhead rather than breaking them out. This had led some library campaigners complaining that local authorities were allowing their administrative costs to rise, whilst library cut backs continued.

4. Digitization and E-books. Jan Nesaratnam reported on the steady progress being made to enhance the offer on the Herefordshire History web site. The coverage of the 1st World War was now nearly finished and work continued on other archival material. A start was being made on the county’s newspapers, concentrating on the two world wars and the early years of the newspapers to begin with. Work was also underway on the 20,000 photo collection housed in the library. This included the Derek Evans collection for which a Heritage Lottery Fund was being made.

On E-books, Jon confirmed that the Herefordshire service was now going ahead with an e-book range and the first titles were being acquired through an agreed supplier. A launch was likely by the summer of this year.

5. Volunteers. Jan reported that there were now a number of volunteers working on various back room jobs, notably the whole process of scanning for digitization. It was suggested that those volunteers who were not already members of HLUG, should be alerted to our activities. JH to pursue.

6. The Sieghart Review and the impact on Herefordshire. It was not thought that the report, which was merely a list of recommendation, would not have much impact on the local service. It was noted that the Library Task Force under the Chairman, Paul Blantern, the CEO of Northamptonshire Council, has had its first meeting. Some concern has been expressed about the invitation to commercial enterprises to become involved. It was noted that this is already happening with some library authorities subcontracting library services to a variety of quasi-commercial concerns, e.g. The burgeoning social enterprise, Greenwich Leisure.

7. Two Proposals for the improvement for the Broad Street building were tabled. Firstly the ideas as set out in a HLUG paper already circulated which suggested that the library be given a radical makeover. Secondly a draft proposal from William McMorran, a HLUG member who is also a distinguished architect with a background in library and other public space buildings.

No specific criticisms about either proposal were raised, but some members did show concern for the lack of parking facilities near by. Jean O’Donnell reminded us that in 1999, a working party proposed that the library be moved out to a new building, and that the present Broad Street building be given over entirely to the Museum. Nothing came of this, not the proposal in 2005 by the then HLUG committee for an enhanced library be placed adjacent to the Edgar Street development. Despite much discussion nothing came of this either. John Eisel mentioned that the basement of Broad Street was of limited practical use because, a) there were complex archaeological problems and b) it was built over 9 metres of peat. The role of the university was also questioned given that the Broad Street building was listed as one of the places that the new university team were considering, but it was suggested that this may be no more than a reflection of the discussion about a library facility that Karen Usher, of the university team had with library officers and members of HLUG.

After a lengthy discussion no conclusions were arrived at, although the consensus of the meeting seemed to be that all three options be pursued, i.e.

A) Broad street be given a makeover along the lines of the HLUG paper with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to support it.

B) That a more drastic rebuilding of Broad Street be proposed along the lines of the ideas put forward by William McMorran.

C) That, yet again, the Council should be asked to consider an entirely new building, for which a quite strong case could be made if it was to incorporate other Council Customer services, along the lines of other local authority developments.

8. Proposals for a pre-election campaign. John Faulkner proposed that an attempt be made to contact all relevant council candidates and local party leaders in order to encourage interest in the Hereford library situation and to provoke a discussion about the possibilities which HLUG is outlining. The Hereford times had already been alerted and following this meeting and when ideas have been firmed up every effort will be made to get press coverage. NB (added after the meeting) The timing for the election campaign is from 10 April when the list of candidates for the council election is published. We then have until 7 May, although the chances of press coverage are lessened as we near the election day, due to pressure on space.

9. Any other business. There being none the meeting ended.

10 Date for the next meeting was not yet fixed, but may well take place some time in the summer, post election results.

NEWS UPDATE September 2015


Hereford library closed until further notice

Building works inside the Broad Street building have revealed traces of asbestos. As a result the whole building will be closed until further notice. Urgent meetings are being held to see how the situation can be ameliorated, but the prospect is that the building will be closed for anything up three months. It is hoped that temporary premises be found, but where, we do not yet know. The Council is recommending Belmont as a means of access to the library service and the Courtyard is offering computer access, but inquire there for details.

Broad street changes

The building works that have forced the library and museum closure were set in motion in order to adapt the front of the ground floor for facilities to cope with the requirements of the Care Act 2014. The Council’s cabinet had decided that it needed to provide information desks and consultation rooms for those who might be affected by the quite comprehensive Care Act, although it is unclear from the wording of the act, quite what facilities need to be on offer. Nevertheless, the Cabinet decided that the Broad Street building was the best place in the city centre for this. HLUG officers were told of this a while back, but were asked to keep it confidential until plans were finalized. We do have some concerns about the proposals, as they appear in outline plans. It is unclear whether there will be an actual loss of space, since the changes would allow for a more rational use of the remainder of the library areas. But one consequence, about which we are apprehensive, is the steady movement of material to the newly opened Herefordshire Record Office at Rotherwas. (See below)

The Council’s budget consultation

This has attracted a good deal of comment both locally and nationally. The market town libraries, each with its own Friend’s group, have been mounting effective campaigns against the proposed diminution of their libraries, leading, possibly to closure.

Herefordshire and the ‘Austerity’ programme.

Quite apart from the present proposals for the libraries, it was announced some time ago that the Museum service would be somehow floated off and cease to be a Council concern. There is still no definite news about this, but those of you who visit the museum in Broad street, may like to know that a Support Group has been formed and is recruiting members. Contact Elizabeth Pimblett, HMSG Secretary, c/o Museum Resource & Learning Centre, 58 Friars St, Hereford HR4 0AS or email

The urge to privatise has spread to the newly opened Record Office in Rotherwas. The latest newletter from the Friends of the HRO reports: “As you may be aware, the Council’s museum and archive services have been directed to find a way to reduce staffing and some support costs (currently about £500K per annum) to nil within three years.  The background to this instruction is of course central government austerity in general and, in particular, the continuing stringent cuts in central government funding to local authorities. An external Consultant, Hilary McGowan, has been engaged to investigate and report on:   

  • how or how far the “zero subsidy” aim might be achievable;
  • how the two services might better meet the requirements of local and visiting users;

  • a future delivery model for the respective services including objectives, purposes and financial overview.  

The Consultant has started work and will produce a report to the Council by the end of October 2015.”

How splendid this new building is, at a cost of over £8 million, can be seen at this web address:

Arts Council Visit

Recently the chief executive of the Arts Council of England, a body that has overall responsibility for libraries in England made a flying visit to Hereford for meetings at the Courtyard. Little notice was given for this but not surprisingly, the meetings were well oversubscribed and as a result HLUG did not get an opportunity to highlight the shameful state of the county library in Broad Street. But accounts of the visit from those who were able to attend rather confirmed the view held by many library campaigners, that the Arts Council is not fulfilling its role and does not seem to be inclined to do so. Yet again we are reminded of the need for a national body for libraries, that does not exist after the ‘bonfire of quangos’ abolished the useful, if not marvellous Museum and Library Authority in 2010.

A Herefordshire Library Strategy

As a result of considerable discussion between the county’s library Friends and User Groups, a document is in draft that sets out, in some detail, what users believe should be the policies for a successful library service in the county. It points out all the very many ways in which all generations of Herefordshire citizens benefit from the library and information point. A final draft will shortly be sent to the officers of the various groups and then, when complete it will be circulated to library users, the media and local politicians. More anon!

The future of Broad Street

You will recall that some time ago we circulated an ambitious plan to convert the present, rather ramshackle library building in Broad Street into a really exciting and innovatory ‘more than just a library’. Obviously in the present political uncertainty these plans are on hold, but they will be renewed and sharpened when the present dust has settled. It is worth noting that if the plans, by William McMorran, were to be carried out, they would almost double the usable space. This would enable the new university to inhabit part of the building for their students’ library – open to the public, as happens in Worcester’s The Hive. But this does wholly depend on the reconstruction of the interior of the Broad Street building, for which substantial funds will be needed. Undoubtedly a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery fund might be anticipated but other donors will need to be sought as well, given the Council’ reluctance to fund capital projects of this nature. Shopping centres and by-passes are one thing…………

It is to be hoped that the situation at Broad Street, once it is again open, will be discussed at the next meeting, sometime in the late autumn, date to be announced.



18th September 2015


Statutory Requirements

The Public Libraries & Museums Act (1964) requires local Councils to provide a local library service which is comprehensive, efficient and is available to all who wish to use it.

In order to meet these, and other, key legal requirements, a local library service must:

  • Be open to all and free to join.

  • Provide a safe, attractive, accessible and welcoming physical space with suitable opening hours to suit local needs and lifestyles

Be available to everyone and meet any special needs required by members of

the local community

Encourage participation and full use of the service

Provide materials in sufficient number, range and quality to meet general and

specific requirements of those in the community

  • Provide computers for access to the web and other sources of digital information

Provide value for money, working in partnership with other Authorities and

agencies .

Community Services and Activities

It will contribute to community development and cohesion by providing:-

  • A positive future for children and young people

  • A fulfilling life for older people

  • Strong, safe and sustainable communities

  • Promotion of local identity and community pride

  • Lifelong learning, skills, and workforce development

  • Health improvements and wellbeing

  • Equality, community cohesion and social justice

  • Economic regeneration

The library service should offer a programme of activities and events that reflect the important role of the library in the local community. These may include:

Activities for parents and toddlers, children and young people

Events to encourage the experience of literature through author talks, reading

groups, storytelling and promoting the joy of books through imaginative

selection and presentation of stock

Programmes to support family and community learning

Promotion and support of the study of local history

Programmes to develop and keep updated, information, literacy, digital and ICT

proficiency, and skills for life

Resources and Provision

To meet the requirements of legislation and the aspirations of policy, a good library service needs sufficient resources:

Location and accessibility. Libraries should be conveniently located near local communities and transport links in order to be accessible. Opportunities for sharing facilities with other services should be explored. Opening hours should suit local needs and lifestyles. Library services should be available beyond the walls of the library, both online and via home delivery to vulnerable individuals

  • Materials and resources. Library buildings, equipment and ICT facilities

should be well designed and kept up-to-date. Library resources and stock in all media (print, audio-visual, online) should be of high quality, contemporary and, match changing forms of publication. They should be sufficient in quantity to meet the needs of all library users. There should be free access to on-line information on a 24/7 basis.

  • Digital services. Provide free digital services to match the Government’

digital by default policy, demands of Universal credit, assistance to job seekers and access to a wide range of information, ideas and works of creative imagination.

Staffing and activities. Staff should be helpful, knowledgeable, welcoming and well-trained. They should be involved in a workforce development programme. Staff in front line customer service roles should be supported by qualified librarians.

Promotion and Development

Libraries should:-

  • Encourage more people to make use of their services

  • Regularly consult users to gather their views on the service and information about their changing needs.

  • Work in partnership with and open up access to other regional and national libraries

  • Provide a satisfactory complaints procedure



Lloyds Bank Foundation (How can they afford it?) Page 8

25,000 for six years

Big Lottery Reaching Communities Page 10

Morrison’s Foundation (?£2m/year??) Page 11

Garfield Weston Foundation Page 11

Sainsbury Family Trust Page 12

Screwfix Foundation Page 26

Note that there are trusts which will help with feasibility studies.


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