LIBRARY NEWS

The Friends of Minchinhampton Library (FoML) was set up in as part of the nationwide  “Friends of the Libraries” movement that arose in response to the threatened closure of 400 of our statutory public libraries in England.  In Gloucestershire, since the campaign began in 2010, we have managed to save mobile libraries and five out of the twelve libraries due for closure and achieved improvements in the GCC “Community Library” package.

Their offer for the “Community Library” package now says that the Council will:

    • provide the community group with all book shelving and library furniture required to run a library
    • provide the group with the library’s collection of books
    • provide and support the library management system for issuing and returning books and for maintaining library membership
    • provide and support People’s Network PCS thereby providing all library users with access to the Internet and the Virtual Library
    • provide van collection services to deliver and  collect reserved books
    • provide training with setting up a library and follow up with further advice, guidance and support during the transition period
    • provide a Community Library Support Officer for ongoing advice providing 3 hours per week as support to each community library
    • liaise with our book suppliers to obtain discounts for provision of new books purchased by the community run organisation
    • provide a revenue stream of £10,000 p.a. to offset running costs.

and the “Premises Offer” reads as follows:

    • peppercorn rent and full repair lease for an agreed period
    •  up to 50% of sale proceeds to re-invest in an alternative community venue
    • sale of the library building with 20% discount off market value.

Although this falls short of our preferred aim of keeping a full statutory county library service in Minchinhampton, it does give us the basis for some kind of local library provision.

Accordingly, Friends of Minchinhampton Library, will now be disbanded with a big thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign. Hundreds of you wrote wonderful letters and emails to the GCC voicing your concerns and expressing powerfully how valuable our library was to you.  The FoML website received over 4,800 visits, and many of you have emailed us with your ideas and needs, and over the past 18 months FoML presented our case to Minchinhamton Parish Council and have had meetings with GCC and our MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who gave his time and support to our campaign.

If you would like to remain part of the national movement, link into the Friends of Gloucestershire libraries website which will keep you informed of any current moves to try to put pressure on the Department of Culture, Media & Sport to preserve our public libraries.

We understand that the changes at Minchinhampton Library could begin at the end of October 2012 and are due to be completed by April 2013 and that Minchinhampton Parish Council have organised a Community Trust to take over the running of the envisaged Community Library project. A Steering Group has been set up and Trustees appointed. The Chairperson of the Minchinhampton Community Library Trust is Chris Stone. The Community Library will be staffed and run by volunteers and the success of the venture will depend upon residents, so please become involved if you can.

Our nearest County Library will be in Nailsworth and their opening hours have been reduced to:

Monday 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm; Wednesday 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm;  Friday 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 6pm; and Saturday morning 10am – 1pm

Our Main County Library is Stroud which will be open:

Monday 9.30am – 6.30pm; Tuesday 9.30am – 5pm; Wednesday 9.30am -5pm;  Thursday 9.30am – 2pm;  Friday 9.30 – 6.30pm  and Saturday 9.30am – 4pm

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE MINCHINHAMPTON COMMUNITY LIBRARY TRUST PLEASE CONTACT CHRIS STONE VIA EMAIL cs@quadra-bec.co.uk

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Meeting with GCC Friday 3rd August 2012

Representatives of Friends of Minchinhampton Library, together with Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, met with GCC, on Friday 3rd August 2012 and presented a strong case requesting that we keep a core County Library Service in Minchinhampton.

Sadly, Cllr Mark Hawthorne and Officers met this with their customary intransigence and will only offer funds to Minchinhampton for a “Community Library”.

Currently, Cllr Nick Hurst and MPC are setting up a Trust and are in negotiations with GCC to take over the building for MPC use and run some kind of a community library from there.

Friends of Minchinhampton Library was set up in January 2011 with the aim of keeping a Statutory County Library Service in Minchinhampton and Cllr Hawthorne congratulated us on the quality of our campaign over the last eighteen months.  He also indicated his willingness to involve FoML as well as MPC in future discussions to ensure that library users will have their voices heard and concerns addressed.

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MINCHINHAMPTON LIBRARY REPRIEVE INITIATIVE

Our MP Mr Geoffery Clifton-Brown visited the Library on Friday 22nd June 2012 and was “happy to see so many people using the facilities”.

He spoke to library users about their concerns regarding the future of the Library and will be seeking a meeting with Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of GCC, to try and improve on the current situation, which is that the Statutory Library Facilities will stop in October 2012 and there will be an interim scheme from then until the end of the financial year.

Cllr Nick Hurst, Chairman of our Parish Council, has adopted a “pragmatic approach” and as a first step in establishing a community library in Minchinhampton MPC have set up a Community Trust.

We have requested a statement from Cllr Hurst and look forward to hearing from him with more details about the possibility of a Community Library replacing the County Library Service at the end of the financial year if we are not grated a reprieve by GCC.

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The Sad Fate of Minchinhampton Library

In spite of all of our best efforts over the past year and the many representations made to Gloucestershire County Council, local representatives and MPs, on Friday GCC announced that they would be going ahead with their stringent cuts to the Gloucestershire Library service.

Little has changed in their plans, from those that were declared ‘unlawful’ and ‘bad government’ in the High Court last year.

This means that Minchinhampton, along with six other Libraries, will no longer be part of the Statutory Library Provision provided by GCC and as such, communities will be forced to fund, organise, manage and run a library they already pay council tax for.

We believe that these will not be libraries in the true sense, as they will be non-statutory, undemocratic and unsustainable.

Whilst we ackowledge the need to make cuts, we do not agree with the way in which GCC has chosen to implement them, nor the disproportionate amounts required. There are other ways.

The Gloucestershire Library Service, costing only 1% of the GCC budget and already cut to the bone by savings of 1.73 million implemented since 2009, and now facing an additional 1.8 million worth of cuts (making the savings nearly 40% of the Library budget) will be irretrievably damaged.

In short, the administration at Shire hall, has yet again failed to listen to and understand the needs and concerns of the very public it was elected to serve. The next County Council elections take place in 2013!!

Below you will find responses from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries to the consultation findings and the report on the new strategy.

If you wish to see the findings from the consultation, as well as the report going to cabinet on Thursday, do follow these links:

1.  FoGL Press Release written by Johanna & John in response to Vector’s newly published report ‘Libraries Consultation – Library Service Strategy’    Click Here

2.  Media Release, written on 2nd April 2012 by John Holland of FoGL, on GCCs ‘new’ library strategy:  Click Here

3. GCC ‘New’ Library Strategy.  Please note that this is a large document and may take a while to download.  Click Here


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Minchinhampton Library Roadshow on Monday 13th February 2.30pm – 5pm in the Library and on-line Library Questionnaire

GCC On-line Questionnaire – an Important Part of the Consultation Process

The six-week consultation process began on Monday 30th January 2012 and will finish on Sunday 11th March.  There are a total of 47 questions in the questionnaire and it takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The questions are very leading, so it is crucial that you also fill in the boxes giving your own views on their proposals.  

There are some  facts on our Statistics Page which maybe of help to you.

There is a link for the on-line questionnaire, or you can CLICK HERE FOR THE QUESTIONNAIRE

It is important that as many people as possible fill in the questionnaire, so please ask your friends and neighbours, if they are library users to do so.  If they cannot do it on-line then a form is available at Minchinhampton Library.

Regarding the consultation questionnaire,  if people don’t feel they can or want to answer some of the questions, the most important thing is to fill in the white box comment sheet, even attach extra pages if required, to express their views. Also Question 18, the demographic information, is important too.

 GCC have also said that anyone who wishes to make comments beyond the consultation survey, or comment in a way that the consultation survey doesn’t allow, should email: libraries2012@gloucestershire.gov.uk

The Roadshow will be attended by a representative of Vector, the authors of the questionnaire, as well as a member of the Library service management team and a Group Librarian, who can advise on the questionnaire as well as take note of any concerns re this or the review.

If, at any time, members of the public cannot get hold of a questionnaire at the Library, they should inform the staff who have been advised to take their name and or address, so that they can let them know when copies have arrived.

This is a copy of the GCC Page about the Questionnaire and Roadshows:

New library service for Gloucestershire

From today, people across Gloucestershire are being asked to have their say on the future of library services.

Consultation

Consultation documents are being distributed to libraries across Gloucestershire and an electronic version of the questionnaire ia available by clicking here

The council has drafted a fresh strategy that aims to make the most of its limited resources, new technology and volunteers to create a service that really works for Gloucestershire’s people.

On the 20th January, the council’s cabinet approved a six-week consultation, which starts today, to get people’s views on the proposals.

The consultation, which will run until 11th March, includes:

  • An online survey available later today
  • Paper survey available in all libraries
  • Telephone survey of 1000 randomly selected Gloucestershire households
  • Fourteen road shows across Gloucestershire
  • Workshops with invited groups

The consultation will ask for people’s views on the Council’s proposals for::

  • Main libraries – nine libraries open six days a week
  • Local libraries – 12 libraries open five days a week – with options for flexibility to suit local needs
  • Partnership Libraries - 10 libraries run by the county in partnership with communities.  Offering between12 and 21 hours of county library service. Building on the principle of sharing buildings with other groups to create a one stop shop for public services with the library remaining in county control.
  • Community Offer Libraries -seven libraries available to the community under an enhanced  Big Community Offer

The council will be talking to people about mobile library provision before making any recommendations.

Roadshows

In order to help us hear your views, a series of roadshows will be taking place across the county as follows:

Date Library Timing Location
Wed 8th Feb Gloucester 10am-4pm Eastgate Mall
Thur 9th Feb Hesters Way 2-6 Hesters Way Resource Centre
Fri 10th Feb Lechlade 2-6 Library
Sat 11th Feb Stow Between 9.30 – 3.30 Library
Mon 13th Feb Stonehouse Between 10- 1 Stonehouse Town Council
Mon 13th Feb Minchinhampton Between 2.30 – 5 Library
Wed 15th Feb Brockworth 10 – 1 Library
Thur 16th Feb Mitcheldean Between 9 – 12 Library
Thur 16th Feb Bream Between 2-5 Community Centre next to library
Sat 18th Feb Cheltenham 10am – 4pm Regent Arcade
Mon 20th Feb Lydney Between 10-1 Lydney Community Centre
Mon 20th Feb Newnham Between 2-4.30 Library
Tue 21st Feb Berkeley Between 9-1 Library

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National Libraries Day – 4th February – Celebrated in Minchinhampton

COME AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR KEEPING A PUBLIC LIBRARY IN MINCHINHAMPTON

SATURDAY 4TH FEBRUARY – LOVE YOUR LIBRARY – CELEBRATE NATIONAL LIBRARIES DAY AT MINCHINHAMPTON LIBRARY

WITH AUTHORS: Jenny Joseph, Alice Jolly, Cindy Jefferies, Seb Goffe & John Dougherty and ‘Familiar Minch Faces’ sharing their favourite books

READINGS, MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT, AND A FUN ACTIVITY FOR THE CHILDREN

9.30am – 12 noon     (provisional timings below)

09.30     Readings by Jenny Joseph (award winning writer poet & reader, renowned for the poem ‘Warning’) and classical guitar music with MichaelDinesh

09.45      Alice Jolly (local novelist & playwright who teaches creative writing at Oxford University)

10.15       Cindy Jefferies (popular teen author) and Seb Goffe (author of Stadium School)

10.45      John Dougherty (children’s author, poet and songwriter)

11.15       Familiar Minch Faces sharing their favourite books and music played by MichaelDinesh

A wonderful opportunity to come together and have a happy time. We would like the 4th to be a focus for more people to join the library or rejoin it if their membership has lapsed, so please tell your neighbours and friends to come along.

As you know our Library is still under threat of closure as a public library.  However, after the judge’s ruling on equality, from 30th January 2012 we have a six-week opportunity to fill in the GCC Consultation Questionnaire and to make a convincing case why we need a public library in Minchinhampton.  MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS WILL BE EMAILED SOON.

WATCH THIS SPACE: Look at our website for details of a Prize Draw open to all those people who join our library in February.

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Brief Update on Status of Minchinhampton Library

Following the judge’s decision regarding the illegality of GCC trying to close our libraries, at the end of last year a small group of FoML members met with Stephen Draper (Chair of the Parish Council Steering Committee on the Future of the Library).  FoML gave Stephen some very telling statistics regarding the profile of residents of Minchinhampton to make a very strong case on the grounds of equality that Minchinhampton Library should remain within the Public Library Service.  Stephen immediately sent a communication to GCC saying that on the grounds of equality we would like GCC to totally review their decision to withdraw Public Library status for Minchinhampton and replace it with Community Library status.  However, we hear that Nick Hirst, the Chairman of MPC, still favours a digital virtual reality modernisation of the library service, although FoML consistently points out that this does not actually fit with the needs of current library users in Minchinhampton.

Additionally, there was a very positive meeting between John Holland and Demelza of the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries and the Officers of GCC – Jo Grills & Duncan Jordan, newly appointed to oversee the library changes.  Here is an extra from the summary of the meeting:

“The meeting felt quite positive. We were able to put across the concerns which many of you have shared with us about the process last time round, and make some suggestions for how things could be done better this time – they seemed to take many of our comments on board and took copious notes.

Jo confirmed that the council will be in ongoing discussions with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission before the new strategy is announced on January 20th, and that a new needs analysis for the service is being undertaken at present. A consultation process will follow the January 20th announcement.

We left the meeting feeling that Jo is committed to getting things right this time, although of course, she is not the only person involved so vigilance in all of our local communities is still needed, and we believe local community groups should continue to take John’s advice (given at the public meeting) to get in touch with GCC now to ensure they are aware of the needs within your community, rather than waiting for the post-strategy consultation.

 More than anything else we were relieved to finally be involved in a constructive dialogue, something that has been entirely missing so far, and hope this is the start of a much better relationship going forward.”

So wait to see what the new library proposals of 20th January 2012 will be and we hope that good sense will prevail and Minchinhampton Library will remain open as a Public Library.

If you would like to write to GCC with your concerns please email

Jo Grills     jo.grills@gloucestershire.gov.uk

here is a summary of the 14th December Public Meeting that may be of help in writing your email:

A public meeting was held in Gloucester last night to discuss the future of the public library service in the county. Library users came from many different communities

across Gloucestershire. In a packed meeting hall at the GAVCA offices on Eastgate Street, the front row was reserved for invited senior members of the County Council administration.  Several speakers expressed their disappointment that

Gloucestershire County Council administration and officers responsible for library services had declined an invitation to the meeting. The meeting was being held following the recent High Court ruling that the County Council’s proposed changes to the library service were illegal, and had completely quashed all the council’s cuts to library services. The news that the Equality and Human Rights Commission had been called in to help ensure that the Council comply with equality legislation when drawing up their revised library strategy was warmly welcomed.

But many serious concerns were raised, including -

Why is the County Council refusing to talk to users until after they have drawn up their proposals in January?

Would the date for the new library proposals of 20 January 2012 really allow the council time to conduct a through, equaitbale and lawful review?

Why is the council still promoting community funded and run libraries despite the fact that the judge had declared the proposals to be illegal?

Why had the County Council spent over £100,000 on legal fees and gone to the High Court instead of listening to the views of the people of Gloucestershire?

Why did the County Council make staff redundant before the High Court ruling, with the same staff now re-employed on temporary contracts and at great expense?

Why does the County Council not explain how volunteers can have access to the library computer system when this is known to break the Data Protection Act?

Why are the cuts in Gloucestershire more severe than anywhere else in the country? In Oxfordshire, for example, no libraries are being closed, and opening hours have been

reduced but the buildings have been kept within the statutory service so that future restoration is possible.    John Holland

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