I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I volunteer at my local library. The local council made the decision towards the end of 2011 to close down Shanklin library. Shanklin is a seaside town of about 9000 people situated on the Isle Of Wight. The library had been doing a great job at meeting the reading needs of the residents for many, many years and was also the only place in the town where there are public computers. The smaller Town Council decided to take the library off the Isle of Wight Council’s hands and employ one member of staff to run the library supported by a group of volunteers. Whatever I felt about libraries closing and people losing their jobs to be replaced by volunteers I had to put to one side because if we lost the library we would never have got it back and the building would probably have been in development to turn into apartments. I began as a volunteer from the start, I was trained by the Isle Of Wight Library Services and work at the library about three sessions a month. I am one of a team of thirty four volunteers who are keeping the library open and watching it go from strength to strength.
This week we discovered we were up for a Community Action Award which led to me organising a presentation for the three judges who came along for a visit (unfortunately, they chose a day when the library was closed) to see just what positive outcomes we are providing for the local community. We find out if we win one of these prestigious awards on May 1st so fingers crossed. I hope we represented the library and the hard work that goes on there as well as we could.
I don’t think libraries should be run by volunteers (and unfortunately, the success of our library has meant that a continually cost-cutting local authority is seriously looking at others to cull) but we do need to keep the libraries open!