Hereford Library Users' Group


NOTE: Key to initials used in minutes available here.

Minutes listed further down this page in date order. Password needed. Any committee member can contact the editor concerning the password. (Telephone 01981 250561)




Thursday May 10th 2018

Four organisations expressed an interest in running the MLA services: Halo Leisure Services Ltd, The Courtyard Trust, GLL (Greenwich Leisure Ltd) and Vision RedbridgeCulture & Leisure Ltd.  All of these indicated that it would not be feasible to take these services over without a substantial financial input from Herefordshire council.

HLUG and 31 Broad Street were never in a position to respond to the call for expressions of interest for the following reason:  Since our plans were fundamentally based on direct involvement of all MLA services in the administrative centre at 31 Broad Street, the initiation by the Council and the participation of HMSSG in the Resilience Exercise to investigate separate financing and administration of the Museum service fatally undermined our plans. This development made it impossible for 31 Broad Street to approach donors for funds or to engage in any fund raising activity for our all-inclusive scheme.

Quote from Council’s summary of the Expressions if Interest:

“Suppliers did state they did not anticipate being able to run the full range of library, museum and archive services on zero subsidy.”

Among others, HLUG was asked for ‘feedback’ (to Herefordshire Council) on both the Resilience Report and also on the responses the Council had received from the four potential bidders. A meeting of the Scrutiny Committee was held on April 9th 2018 to hear submissions and questions from MLA members and other bodies as part of this ‘feedback’ and to consider possible options for the way forward. During vigorous discussion, the comment was made that the case for contracting out the MLA services had not been made and the Council was asked whether it had considered keeping these services in house. Officers were asked also whether the MLA services would be contracted out together or individually. The council officers replied that no decisions had yet been made. Things were still at the stage of information gathering. The report of the Scrutiny Committee’s deliberations would be considered at the next cabinet meeting on May 10th 2018.

The present position is one of uncertainty concerning the council’s intentions. The recent appointment of Mr. J. Chedgzoy as the the head of all MLA services is welcome. However it is difficult to reconcile with the Council’s pursuit of separate financing and management of one part of the service. Added to these uncertainties are the council’s aim of achieving “zero subsidy” at least for some parts of the service.

Hereford library functions well, but is still far too small for the service demanded of it. The children’s library is still grossly inadequate and the dire problems with bookstock remain. Much needed repairs to the roof of the building are still pending and a large part of the mezzanine is still unused following the asbestos works. Lately, the front of the ground floor has been vacated by WISH, with some uncertainty concerning the future of this most valuable space.

The future is not bright. Prospects, previously entertained, of help from the EU for service development have all but vanished. Council funds appear steeply to be declining. Britain is becoming poorer, while still claiming to be one of the richest nations in the world. National funding for the NHS, social care, police, schools, roads and housing is problematic. With static productivity and wages, our government is consumed with making a large leap into the unknown and into the arms of self interested and unpredictable ‘Allies’ . What prospect for poor libraries?   Dark days!

Editor. 10th May 2018

Tuesday January 30th 2018

Minutes of the  meeting held yesterday at the Hereford Library (29.01.18) are available here for those with the password.  The main topics of discussion were:

1.  the Resilience Report on the Museum service   and

2. Feedback on the Expressions of Interest from private enterprises on running the MLA Services for  Herefordshire. These may be down loaded from Herefordshire Council’s website using the links above.

Monday January 15th 2018

Next Committee meeting to be held at Hereford Library, Broad Street, Hereford. Secretary will circulate the agenda to committee members.

Monday September 11th 2017

Minutes of the meeting on September 8th will shortly be available for those with the password to view them. Members are reminded that it was a decision of the committee to have password access only to the minutes. Any member of HLUG requiring the password should ring  01981 250561.

The most important decision taken at the meeting was temporarily to suspend the work of the 31 Broad Street Development Group pending the report of the Resilient Heritage Programme.  This is a lottery funded project approved by Herefordshire Council for the purpose of investigating the future development and financing of the Museum service.   Since the Museum service and it future are part of the remit of the 31 Broad Street Development Group, the work of the latter cannot sensibly proceed until the outcome of the investigation and its recommendations are known. HLUG and 31 Broad Street Development Group  have made representations to Herefordshire council on the obvious need for them to be involved in the investigation and await a response.

It has come to HLUG’s attention that Herefordshire council intends to invite independent organisations to bid for the right to run its cultural services. At the time of writing, many details remain to be clarified. However, the idea would mean a very big change in all aspects of the running and financing of those services, a matter of deep concern to us all. We await developments.                  Editor.


Friday August 25th 2017

There will be quite important developments for discussion at the meeting on Friday 8th September. One of these will be the need for increased spending on the roof of the Broad Street building. A recent inspection has revealed that its condition is significantly worse than originally thought.

Wednesday August 16th 2017

No HLUG meetings since May 15th. However, the 31 Broad Street Project Group has been very busy since receipt of the very positive results of the Feasibility Study.  A meeting of HLUG is planned for Friday 8th September at the Town Hall in Hereford, 2.30pm, to discuss progress.


Monday May 15th 2017

AGM and committee meeting held at the Shirehall in Hereford.  Minutes available below – password required. William McMorran, the busy architect who has been chairman of HLUG for the last year or so, has now been succeeded by Les Watson, the chairman of the 31 Broad Street Development Group. Les has very bravely agreed to take on this additional responsibility. As the main focus of activity has now shifted to that latter group, it was agreed that HLUG only needed to meet about three or four times a year, so reducing the burden on Les Watson.  The results of the Feasibility Study are expected in early June 2017 and are crucial to the prospects of continuing the 31 Broad Street Project. .


The revised constitution, taking account of the 31 Broad Street Development Group central role in advancing the enterprise, has now been agreed.  Matters are progressing steadily. The report on the Feasibility Study for the building project is expected in early June.  Other reports on such matters as Stakeholder involvement hopefully will follow soon after.

Wednesday March 29th 2017. 

Proposals for a revised HLUG constitution are under consideration. A copy of the draft has been sent to members with the agenda for the next meeting at the Shire hall in Hereford on Tuesday April 4th 1.00pm. Please study this draft carefully. We will need the considered opinion of all HLUG members at the Annual General Meeting scheduled for May 15th, 2017 2.00pm at the Shirehall, Committee room 1.

The response of the public to the newly opened Hereford Library has been very favourable, despite the reduced space available.  The general atmosphere in the library is now much lighter and more comfortable. However, it is agreed that much more needs to be done, particularly for children and mums and tots, for whom the provision is still grossly inadequate.

 Tuesday February 7th 2017.

Hereford library has now been open for one week. It is greatly improved. We would like you to come and see what it is like and to give us your ideas on how further improvements could be made.

News Tuesday 31st January 2017.

Hereford Library reopened today, 31st January 2017. The newly refurbished library is lighter and much more pleasant, though a little smaller than before the closure. Readers are advised to visit the library to see the changes, which now include a presence for WISH in the building. Much work remains to be done on the building, to the extent that this refurbishment is just the first phase of a project of rebuilding and improvement planned to take many years and to accommodate the several other users and functions envisaged in the new cultural centre. To manage the long and difficult process, the Rankin Centre Steering Group was set up. Later it was decided that flexibility on the name would be prudent. The name was later changed to the Rankin Centre Project Group.

The resolution to set up the Project Group was taken at an Extraordinary General Meeting of HLUG on 1st April 2016. It was resolved that Les Watson, the new Vicechair of HLUG would be its chairman. He was given the task of recruiting suitable people on to the Group, not exclusively from HLUG.

At the same meeting, the secretarial role for HLUG was subdivided into a membership secretary and a minutes secretary. It was agreed that Jane Adams had the membership role, while Liz Pitman would be responsible for the minutes. However, at the meeting of HLUG on 16th May 2016, it was agreed that Jane Adams would be the secretary, assisted by Ann Harbour. Emma Mayes would take over the membership role. (These might be subject to change – see below).

At the July HLUG meeting the decision was taken formally to hand over the project to the Project Group, which would henceforth be separate from HLUG. (with close co-operation nevertheless).

At present (Jan 2017), the project group is called the ‘31 Broad Street Project Group)’. Its current members are :

Les Watson Chairman

Euan MacPherson

Jane Adams Secretary of Project Group (HLUG secretary now Ann Harbour).

Kate Seekings

(Elinor Kelly, who was a member in June has since resigned).

For further information on financial or operational activities  of the 31 Broad Street Project Group, see their website at or contact Les Watson.

Hereford Library to reopen 31st January 2017

Message from the committee:
Dear Library User,
As you may already know, the Library and Museum in Broad Street are to open on the 31st January.  You will see some changes, with the new Well Being Centre installed at the front of the ground floor. The library proper opens with a quite new desk for checking in, taking out books and answering inquiries. Some of the rest of the library has been re-arranged and there will be further work on it later in the year.  Details of this will follow in due course – your committee meets next week to discuss the arrangements.
                                                                                                                                        John Hitchin.
See also Herefordshire Council News.
 15th May 2017  AGM held at the Shirehall, Hereford.
Minutes available here (Password protected)
4th April 2017  Meeting held at the Shirehall
Minutes available here  (Password protected)

7th March 2017  Meeting held at Hereford Town Hall

Minutes available  here  (Password protected)

24th January 2017 Meeting held at Hereford Town Hall

Minutes available here  (Password protected)

6th December 2016 Meeting held at Hereford Town Hall.

Minutes available here (Password protected)

18th October 2016  Meeting held at Hereford Town Hall.

Minutes available here (Password Protected)

6th September 2016  Meeting held at Hereford Town Hall

Minutes available here (Password protected).

8th August 2016 Meeting held at Nelson Building, Eign Street, HR4 0DG.

Minutes available here    (Password Protected).

4th July 2016 Meeting held at Nelson Building, Eign Street, HR4 0DG.

A very full agenda with important decisions concerning the relationship of HLUG to RCPG.  Herefordshire Council has agreed to a grant from the Museums and Libraries Development Fund to assist in the initiation of the  work of the Rankin Centre Project Group (RCPG).  Read all about it in the password protected minutes here.    Next meeting Monday 8th August also at the Nelson Building in Eign Street. Note the new time – 1.00pm.

6th June 2016: Meeting at the Town Hall 6th June 2016 2.00pm.

Editor’s note: Password protected Minutes available here.

Separate from HLUG, but set up by it, is a new Project Group called the Rankin Centre Steering Group, given the task of managing all aspects of the implementation of our proposals to the Council.  Further details in the minutes.

Confirmed that the Steering Group will continue to be called the Rankin Centre Steering Group until such time as a better name becomes appropriate. Mr. Les Watson, chairman of the Steering Group proposed that a Charitable Incorporated Organisation be set up as a Trust in the manner advised by the Charity Commission. He has this in hand. He reported also on the details of our application for a grant from the Council for conducting preliminary studies. Full details in the minutes shortly to become available.

NEWS 16th May 2016

HLUG Committee met to discuss developments following the Cabinet meeting of 9th May and to plan further action.   Note that at present the officers are:-

Chairman                                         William McMorran,

ViceChairman                                Les Watson

Secretary                                          Jane Adams

Membership Secretary               Emma Mayes

Full text of the Minutes of 16th May 2016 available  here.


NEWS 9th May 2016.

Cabinet met at 2.00pm on May 9th 2016 and discussed as an agenda item the proposals of HLUG for the Broad Street Building and the services it houses. A version of HLUG’s response to Cabinet’s invitation to submit these proposals was circulated with the agenda beforehand. Also circulated was a report by the Cabinet Member for Contracts and Assets, containing recommendations and observations on the details of HLUG’s response. The discussion in Cabinet was, on the whole, favourable to our proposals, even if there were still some matters needing to be settled.

Members are recommended to read among others, paragraphs 42 and 47 to 50 of the report mentioned above. Editor.

HLUG Extraordinary General Meeting

2.00 pm 1 April 2016

Apologies from Mo Burns, Euan Macpherson, Emma Mays, Kate Seekings.

Those present: William McMorran, Jane Adams, John Faulkner, Anne Harbour, John Hitchin, Elinor Kelly, Liz Pitman. Hubert Porte, Terry Preece, and Les Watson

Jon Chedgzoy, Library Services Manager was in attendance.

1. Introductions were made.

2. Way forward – immediate action:

a) Council’s intentions subsequent to review were not yet known, but it was thought that it would be very likely that the Cabinet will wish to off load cultural services as far as possible. JBLF reported Natalia Silver’s recent email:

We need to go back to cabinet, which I have booked as an emergency item for the 9th May (I know doesn’t sound like emergency, but beyond the 28 working day notice for the forward plan).  The report is based on your proposal of moving back in and holding remaining funds where we can for any match, but likely to have a time line. Jon is organising a trip to the site.  But do you think we should do some communications – it might be a bit limp as we cannot say if the proposals are acceptable until a decision made by cabinet but rather be upfront rather than silence. I can draft something.”

b) HLUG should seek to ring fence available funds as far as is possible subject to costs of refurbishment.

NB the removal of the asbestos had been estimated at £68K and a further £100K set aside for minimal repairs. A sum of £900K had been identified in the Cabinet minutes of 9 Dec 2015

c) Agreement of minimal refurbishment of Broad Street, which, as reported by JC at the AGM would involve repairing some damage to the internal fabric of the building. It was agreed that a small party of HLUG members led by WMcM would tour the building to see what the current situation was and what could be regarded as minimal repairs. It was later suggested that this party should include WISH (Euan Macpherson?), the Woolhope and either the HMSG or the FHMA (see below)

d) Every effort should be made to ascertain the soonest date at which the Broad Street building could be reopened if necessarily in part in order to keep the library service going since the Town Hall facility is deemed inadequate.

e) Obtain a measured survey of the building by a professional – WMcM pointed out that this was essential before any serious planning could proceed. Presumably the Council will pay for this.

f) Plans should be made and material prepared to commence using the Broad Street building as a means of promoting the project and attracting volunteer help.

g) Project costings – not discussed until more is known

3. Formation of a Broad street Project Committee: most members of the HLUG committee wished to be part of this, with LW stressing that this was the primary reason for his volunteering. It would now be important to connect with other interested parties and stakeholders. This should include the Friends of the Herefordshire Museums and Arts; the Hereford Museum support Group and the Woolhope Club all of whom should be approached formally.

NB for information: In the initial stages of preparing the response to the Cabinet and the Rankin Centre proposal approached had been made to the FHMA who did not appear to be particularly interested; the HMSG who were, especially through the help given by Judy Stevenson of the Museum Resource Centre; the Woolhope Club were communicated with formally through the Secretary, David Whitehead and a number of individual members who were also HLUG members, some quite actively for a number of years. Approaches were also made to the Friends of HARC who are supportive; the Herefordshire Family History Society, also very supportive and a number of other local history societies. Discussions also took place with WISH, HVOSS, the Courtyard, the Arts College and several councillors. A presentation had been given to the City Council’s Finance Committee. Rural Media and the county’s sheriff had also been helpful. A close working relationship has been established with the NMITE.

LP stressed that it would be necessary to establish the ownership of the building; any covenants; and cabinet approval. It was noted that this had been dealt with in the Proposal and in the Response to the Cabinet, which JBLF will circulate to all members. Original documents do exist and will also be circulated. The history of the building has been written by Jean O’Donnell, a HLUG member and past President of the Woolhope Club, in the Woolhope Transactions some years ago (Reference forthcoming)

4. TP asked that the title Rankin Centre be reviewed. He had conducted a small survey which had produced negative results. However that meeting agreed that for the foreseeable future the title should be retained until a better suggestion at a later stage might emerge; a major donor, for example. LW stressed that in his experience with the Saltire Centre project in Glasgow the name soon became iconic

5. Review role of HLUG in initially leading the project and the transition to a Project Group (see 3 above). It was stressed that regardless of the work of this Group, there would be a need for the continuation of HLUG in order to be able to monitor the work of the library using Council and CIPFA data etc and provide volunteers for various projects including digitization.

The Project Group would evolve and HLUG Officers had already identified several potential volunteers.

6) Applications for start-up funding. Apart from the HLF and Big Lottery, the ACE could be approached and use made of the Herefordshire Council’s funding officers and their Funding Directory. HLUG officers have been working on this and will provide any relevant information so far gathered. The availability of £60K from the Council’s ‘Development fund’ should be noted and a bid for a proportion of that be made.

7 & 9) Appointments: some discussion took place on the role that individual HLUG members might take.

The Vice Chair would be Les Watson

The Secretary’s role divided into two: Jane Adams to maintain the membership list and Liz Pitman to keep the minutes from the next meeting onwards.

A Press Officer’s role would be taken by Bill Laws.

Representation on the Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries would be the Chairman and one other, to be nominated.

8 ) The HLUG website was currently managed by Hubert Porte who agreed to continue doing this until someone equipped to manage social media could be recruited. It was noted that there already existed a Facebook Save Our Libraries page existed and that this was managed through 38 degrees by a HLUG member John Llewellyn Perkins, who was very approachable and helpful. JA agreed to set up an email address.

10) Press. BL agreed to draft a press release (in the event, after the meeting JBLF did so).

HLUG had personal contacts with the Hereford Times, the Herefordshire Voice web site and the BBC Hereford and Worcester, but not with Wyvern.

11) Date of next meeting was fixed for 16 May 2 p.m. in the Shire Hall.

(JBLF    John Faulkner                                HLF     Heritage Lottery Fund

JH          John Hitchin                                   HLUG   Hereford Library Users’ Group

LW         Les Watson                                     HMSG  Hereford Museums Support Group

JA          Jane Adams                                      FHMA Friends of Hereford Museum and Art Gallery

BL          Bill Lawes                                         HARC  Hereford Archives Resource Centre

TP          Terry Preece                                     NMITE    New University of Hereford

JC          Jon Chedgzoy                                    ACE        Arts Council England

WMcM  William McMorran                         CIPFA    Chartered Institute of  Finance and  .                                                                                                           Accountancy)


Meeting on Jan 29th 2016 held at the Museum Resource Centre 6.00pm.

Panel: Mr. J. Norman MP Chairman – first half of meeting.

                Mr. J.B.L. Faulkner Chairman HLUG, Chairman – second half of meeting

                Mr. J. Hitchin Secretary HLUG.

                Lady Jan Falkiner JAHL representative

                Mr. W. McMorran Architect of Architectonicus Ltd.

                Cllr. P. Morgan Deputy Leader Herefordshire Council.

                Cllr. A. Powers Herefordshire Council

The meeting was held to present the HLUG proposals for the modification of the Broad Street library which had been developed following the invitation by the Herefordshire Council Cabinet to HLUG to submit their ideas and whether they were willing to cooperate with the Council in their possible development. The submission was due at the end of February.

The meeting was so well attended that several members of the public had to stand at the back. It is estimated that about one hundred people were present.

Among those present were representatives of:

                Rural Media Ltd.,

                The Woolhope Naturalists Club,

                The Museum and Art galleries,

                Friends of Leominster and other libraries,

                Mrs N. Silver, Assistant Director, Communities, Herefordshire Council, and

                Staff of Herefordshire Libraries,

                Community organisations

                Local businesses.

                Hereford Civic Society

Mr. Norman alluded to the present uncertainty affecting Library Services throughout the U.K. and in particular to the difficulties besetting Hereford’s Broad Street building, the county’s main centre for library and museum services. It was gratifying to see that there was still a vision for the future to be set out in the presentation to be made by Mr J Faulkner and Mr. J. Hitchin, chairman and secretary of HLUG. The purpose of the meeting was to obtain some idea of the views of the public on possible options for the future of the service and in particular of the Broad Street building.

Messrs Faulkner and Hitchin then gave a powerpoint presentation showing examples of what had been done in other parts of the country and abroad and what should and possibly could be done to provide Hereford with a suitable central Library and Museum building fit for a 21st century service.

Mr. William McMorran explained the ways in which the present building, with its listed frontage including the Woolhope Room could be completely re-fashioned internally to produce a 21st century facility.

Lady Falkiner explained the difficulties faced by libraries and cultural services in towns and settlements in a sparsely populated county like Herefordshire. It was important in formulating any plans to bear in mind the needs of all Herefordians and all the county library support groups had come together to form JAHL Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries to progress these plans.

Cllr. Morgan explained the difficult choices faced by Herefordshire Council and emphasised its obligation to remedy the pressing immediate problems with the Broad Street building. This left the Council with even less room for manoeuver than was the case only four months ago, nor was there any likelihood of reduction in the pressure faced by Council on account of the needs of other services in the county. Nevertheless, Council had proposed the setting aside of the sum of £0.9m to cover the immediate works and possible future improvements to Broad Street.

Cllr Powers agreed that lack of planned expenditure on the infrastructure of cultural services had helped to precipitate the present difficulties. It was not easy to influence the development of strategy with the present governance arrangements in Herefordshire Council. He had much sympathy with our campaign for better and more modern facilities in Broad Street and was inspired by the vision set out in the HLUG presentation. The people certainly deserved better than the present offering.

(Mr. Norman took some questions from the floor, but had to leave for another appointment at 7.30pm. The remainder of the meeting was chaired by Mr. Faulkner, )

The discussion was very lively, with many points being raised from the floor. Among these were the following:

The apparent lack of an overall policy and strategy for cultural services in Herefordshire.

It was noted that there were some outstanding achievements, not only the invaluable and comprehensive Museum Resource Centre, but also the truly modern and groundbreaking HARC building at Rotherwas. However, the service was noticeably deficient in other areas. There was no overall cultural strategy for the county and a cabinet member responsible for its production.-

The need to consider the future of the market for the services we are championing.

No businessman would consider the expenditure of so much planning and finance without carefully assessing the way the market was likely to develop. We had to consider the future role of cultural services as a whole in our communities and tailor our plans so as to deploy our resources to best effect. HLUG said they would be stressing the large and often hidden economic advantages that a Rankin centre could bring

It was not possible for a representative cross section of cultural services users to attend ameeting such as this.

Inevitably mothers with young children and many other groups wouldhave found attendance impossible. The scattered nature of Herefordshire communities also meant that similar meetings would be needed in several locations in order to obtain a better overview of public opinion. HLUG agreed and JAHL had a major role in this respect.

Most counties housed their central library, their museum and their art gallery each in its own building.

It seemed perverse to squeeze all three into a single building, already considered too small for at least one of these functions. HLUG pointed out that additional and better floor space would become available for all cultural activities and that provision of a new and separate library facility was not realistic in the present financial situation.


Sources of finance were questioned. HLUG said that seed finance for early development was thought to be available from Lottery and Arts Council sources. Fund raising for the capital works would require a major effort by the proposed project team to tap national and charity foundation sources.


Had the fact that the building is located over an archaeologically rich area been considered and the possible delays this might cause? Mr McMorran explained that foundations would be piled ensuring minimum interference with archaeology.

The need to involve younger people.

HLUG agreed that this was vital and this would need further work along with many substantial matters that had to be resolved if the project was to proceed but the present objective was to gain agreement to this from public and council.

After much discussion, it was observed that matters appeared to boil down to a choice between the removal of asbestos from the building followed by correction of present maintenance problems at a cost of £90,000 so restoring the status quo ante with no real change to the building on the one hand, and on the other, exploring ways of achieving the vision of a completely renewed Broad Street Building. The latter would take some considerable time and finance and would necessitate the provision of an adequate temporary library. Possible location of this was not discussed. HLUG acknowledged that there were still many aspects to be considered such as setting up a project and fund raising organisation, future revenues, development of design and estimates etc.

A member of the Woolhope Naturalist Club observed that the first of the two choices above was to be preferred, as closure of the Broad Street building for a long period was in his view unacceptable.

One member of the audience observed that in view of the many uncertainties attending the financial and other aspects of the visionary scheme, it was unsafe to take a definitive vote on the choices above. Another member pointed out that as so many other interested groups could not be present at the meeting, only a ‘Straw poll’ of the views of those present should be taken.

Mr. Faulkner, chairman, called for a simple show of hands to determine how those present saw the choices. The result was very striking. The great majority – probably over 85% of those present raised their hands in support of the visionary scheme. Just two hands were raised against, and in favour of the status quo ante. The number of abstentions was small.

The chairman asked for any further questions, but none was forthcoming.

The meeting ended at 8.50 pm.

J B.L. Faulkner, Chairman HLUG.



NEWS UPDATE   December 2nd 2015.

There is no immediate prospect of re-opening of the Broad Street Building, which requires repairs additional to the removal of asbestos.  A temporary library has been opened in a small (very small) room at the front of the Hereford Town Hall.  There is no computer access there at present, and the few books on the shelves are chiefly fiction.

Editor’s comment:

This is grossly inadequate. It supplies just a tiny fraction of only one of the many functions of a library. As the Broad Street  building is likely to be unavailable for months or even longer, It is urgent that a much larger and more suitable home is found for the  temporary library. HLUG is vigorously making representations to the Herefordshire Council on this matter.



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