This article was published by the Cheadle and Tean Times
‘TAKING today’s library into the future’ – that’s the aim of residents preparing to take over Blythe Bridge Library after months of negotiations.
The Care and Fun Club, a Blythe Bridge nursery school, is leading the initiative, which will see responsibility for the service transferred from Staffordshire County Council to the local community from April this year.
The council, who have run the service since it opened in 1964, will continue to maintain the building, and are offering ongoing training for volunteers.
Helen Bickerton, owner of the Care and Fun Club said: “It’s an exciting time to get involved – we are learning and planning for the first six months or so, and are very interested in hearing from local people about how this building can best serve the community.
“We have much more freedom to develop services than the council did – for example we can involve church groups and ask for sponsorship from local companies.
“The challenge now is that it will be run wholly on the generosity of the community, so we need to be sure we are offering services that the community need and want.
The group are not short of aspiration, including keeping the library’s current opening hours. Helen said: “To keep the current library open hours, we will need two volunteer caretakers, and up to 16 library volunteers.
“The caretakers need to live close by, and be available to open and close the venue for activities and events.
“The library volunteers need to have a passion for community and a good way with people, as a warm welcome for all our users is going to be very important.
“If people have other skills, such as computer skills or administration, then that’s great too, although training will be available so that people are confident in their role.”
As well as the library services, new Adult Education classes are planned with Leek College, and the toy library service will also run from the centre.
Helen said: “We can’t re-register as a children’s centre unfortunately, but we do hope to have some groups and activities for preschool children, and also to work with local schools and youth groups.
“We have meeting spaces for hire and lots of ideas for the large spaces – including an art gallery and peformance space for cultural events in the evenings.
“We’ve contacted local health providers and councils, and we hope that a wide range of groups will make the most of the space and offer their skills to the community – libraries are about learning and pleasure, and together this contributes to community well-being in the broadest sense.
Blythe Bridge Library volunteers are holding an open day on Friday 26th February, where residents can meet the groups involved, have a cup of tea and a chat, and share their thoughts and ideas about the services to be provided in the building.
Volunteers can register at the event, or by contacting Helen on firstname.lastname@example.org.