On 25 September the much loved Earlsdon Library will move into community control, overseen by Earlsdon Library Friends. We’re approaching the change with mixed emotions. Like many local people we’re saddened by the council’s decision to pull out of the library. However we’ve spent many hours exploring how a community led library could work for Earlsdon and we’re optimistic that our approach can provide something valuable.
Our priority is to sustain access to books, computers and a safe space that’s freely accessible. Over time we will develop a range of new activities to generate income alongside the library provision, but this will come later.
There will be a written agreement in place between the council and the not for profit company we have set up to run the library. This will state what each party has agreed to do to support the continued operation of the library.
The council will continue to provide books, computers, wifi and printing equipment. Items will be borrowed using the council library card, can be requested from other libraries and can be returned to any library in the city. Unfortunately Earlsdon library will not be able to lend DVDs or CDs because of the council’s licencing agreement. Some library users might notice changes where other materials were withdrawn as the council prepared to hand over the library. However if there is demand for particular resources from local library users we can work towards providing materials ourselves to complement what the council provides.
For the first year we will receive financial support from the council to cover some operating costs such as electricity bills. We also expect to have one librarian seconded to us as well as the support of three named library staff based elsewhere in the city.
Volunteers will do most tasks involved in running the library – making people feel welcome, helping to use facilities, issuing and returning books, keeping the shelves stocked, supporting computer use etc. We’re so grateful to everyone who has stepped forward to volunteer their time.
The council is withdrawing its regular staff from 4 September. From 4-24 September the library will be run by the council but open for reduced hours. During this time volunteers will get familiar with the books, computers, policies and rota – mostly when the library is closed.
From September 25 the opening hours will be:
- Monday 10am – 5pm
- Tuesday 10am – 5pm
- Friday 1pm – 5pm
- Saturday 9am – 1pm
- Sunday 12pm – 4pm
We intend that groups who meet in the library will still be able to do so although there may need to be some changes to days or times.
Regular library users may feel unsettled by the changes and we do apologise for the hiatus. Please bear with us. It’s no mean feat to set up a financially viable social enterprise with appropriate policies and enough trained volunteers to run a busy city library in just a few months. By the time we take over we intend that volunteers will feel confident with what they’re doing and our new team will be ready to provide a good level of service to library users.
We look forward to welcoming you into the community-led Earlsdon library very soon.
You can keep up to date with what’s happening at www.earlsdonlibraryfriends.wordpress.com or by following @EarlsdonLibraryFriends on Facebook. We’re still recruiting so please get in touch if you’d like to volunteer – firstname.lastname@example.org.
A copy of this article appeared in the September issue of the Earlsdon Echo.
Banner image: Earlsdon Library, Earlsdon, Coventry. © Image & Design by Ian Halsey MMX