Hereford Library Users' Group

01/27/2012

New Ross Library and Customer Service Centre now open…..

Herefordshire Council’s newly refurbished Ross Library and Customer Service Centre is now open to the public. The newly combined service is being officially opened on National Libraries Day and to celebrate this, a wealth of celebrated writers will be attending the event.

Popular local authors Phil Rickman, Rebecca Tope, Carol Peacock, Quentin Letts; and Jon and Heather Hurley will be joining in celebrations for the official opening of the refurbished centre, which now boasts a new exhibition space, new library area as well as a suite of customer service points.

Work from Herefordshire’s Young Poet Laureates will be on display and Bookstart bear will be at a special storytime for under 5s at 2pm. The celebrations kick off from 11.30am with the official opening at noon and all friends and supporters are welcome.

For the whole of February, Herefordshire Council’s library service is offering a voucher for a free rental of an audio book, a DVD or a game if you introduce a new member of your family or a friend to the library, and what’s more they will get a voucher too. There will also be special National Libraries Day postcards asking people to say what they love about their library.

Customers are encouraged to visit the centre to see the wide range of surgeries designed to support the needs of the local community. Surgeries are held weekly and will be showcased across the launch week on the following days:

• Councillor surgery – Saturday 4 February 10am to 11am

• Housing advice surgery – Wednesday 8 February from 9.30am

• Planning applications surgery – Thursday 9 February 2pm to 4pm

Councillor Roger Phillips, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for enterprise and culture, said: “In Herefordshire, we are fully committed to keeping all of our libraries open and sustainable into the future which is why we have combined our library service customer services team. “This reduces our running costs and means we can keep all of our permanent libraries open, unlike many other authorities who have been forced to close these vital community services.

“We have also been able to use the old shelving at Ross library, which had to be removed because it would not fit the reconfigured space, to improve the facilities at both Bromyard library and the children’s library at Hereford.

“I am delighted we have such a wealth of popular writers coming along to the official opening and I hope as many residents as possible will come along to meet them as well,” he added.

Councillor Philip Price, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for corporate services and education, said: “As part of our strategy to provide better services for customers, this new centre will provide a one-stop shop for residents who want to take out library books or use the council’s other services such as advice on housing and making planning applications.

“By combining the library and customer services centre, we have reduced our running costs while still ensuring residents enjoy the same level of service,” he added.

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01/21/2012

All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries

Further to our blog of November 2nd last, HLUG are pleased to report that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries has now been successfully launched in December last. It is backed by CILIP – the organisation that supports professional librarians. APPG’s are cross-party groups that allow both MP’s and Lords with a shared interest in a topic to come together to share information and issues.

As we indicated previously, Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson is the Chair of the APPG and hosted the launch last December.  The purpose of this All-Party Group is to set out a pro-active and positive agenda to promote libraries. The group can set the agenda and share best practice. Already topics up for discussion will be skills in the sector, school libraries and library services and public libraries. A total of 59 MP’s and Lords have signed up for the Group.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was also at the launch and said that he supported library campaigners, but that it was down to individual local authorities to decide how they deliver services. (Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to your editor). However, he went on to say that the Government would not make it easier for local authorities to shirk responsibilities with the comment that “It is important to realise that Libraries are still a £1 billion service. We have maintained the statutory duty for local authorities to provide a comprehensive library service and that is non-negotiable. But local authorities are in the driving seat for running libraries.” (Ah, now there’s the rub……). But at least the profession now has a powerful advocate in high places and a means to guide the APPG in the right direction. HLUG will be watching with interest.

01/08/2012

Submission to Culture, Media and Sport Committee by HLUG

HEREFORD LIBRARY USERS’ GROUP.

This submission ran to four A4 sides so a summary of it is shown below. If anyone wishes to see a full copy, they can contact either John Hitchin, our Chairman  at johnhitchin@ereal.net or myself, as editor of this website at joan.williamson2@virgin.net

1.Summary.

This submission to the committee is made by the Hereford Library Users’ Group (HLUG). The background and experience of the Group is explained followed by our comments, views and recommendations on each of the four issues to be considered by the Committee. These can be summarised as:-

1.1 HLUG believes that the future needs of our children and grandchildren, who have no vote, must be safeguarded by those such as members of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee who can influence democratic decision-making.

1.2 It is clear from our studies of library developments across the UK that many local councils have difficulty in recognising the vital contribution that libraries make to their locality and the benefits they can bring.

1.3 The Committee should visit a range of libraries, large and small, old and new, to see the wide range of essential services that can be provided by a modern library and the difficulties that many libraries are meeting, as inadequate facilities and closures prevent them from giving an adequate service that matches good modern practice.

1.4 Libraries appear to be regarded as an easy target for financial cuts and proposals are being put forward by local authorities without adequate consultation or appreciation of the likely results.

1.5 Regarding the alternative methods of managing libraries that many Councils are considering, it is difficult to see what benefit there is in separating library, archive and similar services from direct Council control. Indeed, it must be questionable if Councils can meet their statutory requirements under the 1964 Act if they hive off these services.

1.6 With the present concentration by the government on raising the standards of education and training, it is our view that now is not the time for libraries to be closed or services reduced; on the contrary there needs to be more recognition of the vital contribution that libraries make in this area and every effort should be made to develop the role of the library rather than diminish it.

1.7 We would propose that some form of Library Audit should be established by DCMS that is charged with the regular and comprehensive review of library services being provided by local authorities. This should not just be the receipt of reports but supplemented by actual inspection with subsequent sanctions being imposed where it can be shown that they are not compliant with the Act.

01/07/2012

Garway village hall hosts new library… and Wellington too

Since losing the mobile library service in the county, volunteer-run libraries seem to be springing up like mushrooms in Herefordshire. The one in Garway is located in the village hall and is run by residents. It has been opened as part of Herefordshire Council’s Future Libraries project being run in conjunction with Shropshire Council. (See previous blog on this website). The project aims to support communities to develop their own services with the support of the Council’s library stock and deliveries.

Councillor Roger Phillips told BBC Hereford & Worcester that “Some twenty communities in the county have expressed an interest in running their own library and we are working with them to see how the library service can support their plans by providing regular stocks of books and simple systems for them to track where borrowed books are.”

A similar scheme has taken off in the village of Wellington where the library is situated in the village shop.

Editors comment: It is to be hoped that there is a pool of volunteers available for each location otherwise the schemes will ultimately fail through lack of suitable help.

12/17/2011

Oops! Own goal in Surrey!

Our mole at HLUG has heard that Surrey County Council has reversed its decision to divert emails from a leading campaign group. This was after it emerged that all communications from the Chairman of Library campaign group SLAM were being automatically diverted to email junk boxes.

Lib Dem Councillor Hazel Watson suggested that this move was undemocratic, especially as the Library issue is such a controversial one saying that: ” There has been a lot of opposition (to library closures), so to block emails from the Chairman of the organisation that’s trying to oppose the changes I think reflects badly on the County Council.”

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We have to be strong enough to recognise when we have got something wrong and in this case we have. We value people’s views and Mr Alsop’s emails will now arrive straight into inboxes, instead of councillors having the option of opening them. People’s opinions are always considered when a decision is made and this was the case with the recent decision to change the library policy, which was heavily informed by the opinions of library users.”

Well – a victory for common sense at last.

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