"We increasingly recognise the interdependence of the whole library system in the county – something which was vividly underlined when the Central Library In Broad Street Hereford was shut down owing to the discovery of asbestos. Consequently a new group, Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL) has now formed and we are playing a very active part in its deliberations and activities. JAHL is working closely with Herefordshire Council to try to develop a long term strategy for our libraries to replace the constant crisis management forced on them by heavy funding cuts."
Jan Falkiner, Chair of RLDG Feb 2016
New folding seats and a storage trolley have been purchased, thanks to Herefordshire Community Foundation and Comic Relief. These enable us to set up the Dennis Potter room for meetings and events more easily and without disrupting the rest of the library! The gate/barrier has now been installed to allow the foyer, Dennis Potter room and toilets to be available to the community when the main library is closed. This was funded by donations from Severn Waste and our own funds. We have also purchased a sound system for talks and workshops, blinds, a new display cabinet and a new projector, and in December 2016 a new sofa and three easy chairs for the Dennis Potter room to replace the very scruffy old ones. This year we have commissioned and installed a new noticeboard at the front of the library which is a great improvement on the old system of signs taped onto the windows! We have also purchased a wonderful treasury of Lego to allow the library team to start a Lego club. Our own fundraising in 2016 was boosted by generous donations from the local Rotary Club and from Ross Town Council, and in 2017 we received a very generous donation in memory of local gent's outfitter Mervyn James who was a great supporter of Ross Library. We had long intended to fund the installation of a small kitchen in the foyer but that is now part of the capital works planned by Herefordshire Council to start in February 2018. So we are watching developments to see where we might make the best contribution.
The Sieghart Independent report on the Public Library Service was published. You can read it here. In response a Library Task Force was set up which is doing good work, but the cuts continue nationally at a frightening level. We submitted a detailed report on the issues from our own experience of the things which matter and are succeeding here in Ross on Wye. In 2015 we raised a petition, with over 7000 signatures, which was debated in a full council meeting on December 18th. You can read our presentation to Council. In summer 2016 we learnt that the library service is yet again among the targets for possible cuts in the latest budget round. The Cabinet Meeting on October 13th decided the next set of targets for cuts to the service. Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL) held a demonstration ahead of that meeting, lobbied many of the councillors and submitted a further report, Libraries for Life on the subject. Further cuts were made but no library will be closed this time around. The latest developments include bringing other services into the library - which is the reason for major restructuring beginning early in 2018. There is also a plan to engage in "soft" market testing to see if any organisation would be interested in taking over management of the library service. We are watching and ensuring that the views of users and friends are heard. You can keep track of events via our Facebook page.