Hereford Library Users' Group


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.



Submission to Culture, Media and Sport Committee by HLUG


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 or myself, as editor of this website at


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.


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.


Hertfordshire Schools Library Service set to close in 2012

A recent Hertfordshire County Council report recommended the service should close following declining buy-in from schools and uncertainty about the amount of funding the service would receive from central education budgets.

Schools Library Services provide professional support to schools to help manage their libraries. They provide books and resources to support teaching and help encourage reading for pleasure and develop a reading culture in schools.

Annie Mauger, CILIP Chief Executive, responded to the news:

“We are very shocked and saddened. This is a bitter blow to the hundreds of schools and thousands of children who benefit from the support of this service. The proposal to closure the service reflects the difficult decisions that both schools and local authorities have to make. The decline in numbers of schools buying into the service because of reductions in funding and the cuts to local authority library budgets means the service cannot subsidise losses. Vital support for literacy and learning will be lost.

The end result of this decision is pupils getting less support in a time where literacy levels and skills for life are more essential than ever. Hertfordshire County Council may feel that they have no choices as this is a traded service, but my concern is that this will create a domino effect across the country.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust added:

“Schools Library Services are a vital ingredient in effective school library provision for children across the country. Hertfordshire’s Schools Library Service has an iconic status as a centre of excellence in this field. If a service that is one of the biggest and best in the country is set to close, this threatens every Schools Library Service in the country.”

The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals and the National Literacy Trust asks that government responds to the Estelle Morris Report from the School Library Commission and that an investigation into sustainable models for future provision of Schools Library Services should be taken forward.

Michael Morpurgo, the children’s author has also put in an impassioned plea for the service to be retained. He was born in St. Albans and is saddened by the news that one of the countries best-respected schools library services may close. He felt that the decision was short-sighted and ill-judged. See  Alan Gibbons blog to the right of this blog to find out more……


Surrey scales back volunteer-run libraries – a victory for common sense?

The following piece is a salutary reminder that volunteers are fine up to a point.

News has appeared in the Bookseller (organ of the booktrade) and other local press that Surrey County Council has ditched plans for nine of its libraries to become volunteer-run.

Apparently, nineteen of Surrey’s 52 libraries were under threat of closure unless volunteers stepped forward to run them, but yesterday (29th November), leader of the Conservative Surrey County Council, councillor David Hodge, announced that nine of the libraries would remain council-run.

However 10 further libraries, including Ewell Court, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams, will still become community led. Hodge gave a “guarantee” that an experienced member of the council’s library team would be present in all community-led libraries for at least 20% of their opening hours.

Councillor John Orrick, the Liberal Democrat communities’ spokesperson on Surrey County Council, said: “Liberal Democrats have consistently argued for many years that all of Surrey’s libraries should remain open. “We have argued against two tiers of library, with no second class libraries, and we want professionals at the heart of Surrey’s library network.” He added that the change of heart was an admittance that the idea of community-run libraries is “disastrous” and urged for the whole plan to be “scrapped”. He added: “Throwing the 10 threatened libraries a crumb from the table of one member of staff for one fifth of their opening hours will do little to remove fears of a downgraded service and eventual closure.”

Speaking at the council meeting, Hodge referred to the “world [economic] situation” and added “if at times we are being asked at some stage in the future to cut back on what we have already planned we may have to revisit things again”.

However, it seems that many Councils are becoming alarmed, not just by the strength of the public opposition to library closures, but also by some of the High Court judgements (Gloucestershire and Somerset being a case in point) and also by the fact that Council member are being forcefully reminded that there is more to running a library and being a professional librarian than meets the eye. The Councillor in Yorkshire who thought that librarians only stamped books out has been well and truly put in his place – not least by Lauren Smith on her blog when she compiled a list of at least 96 tasks (it has probably grown by now!) that Public Librarians and Library Staff do – see and scroll down to October 6th. I bet some local Councillors got a shock – I doubt if their CV’s could stand up to scrutiny in the library world! Or readers could refer back to the entry of October 17th on this blog to find out what volunteers need to know about running a branch.

Well, it’s all good stuff and in a couple of weeks time, my friend from Gloucester will be over for lunch, and as she is a leading light in the campaign for Gloucester Libraries, I will no doubt be given the low-down on the state of play in Gloucestershire. We already know about the High Court judgement. Of more anon……

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