Ross Library Development Group



RLDG News

The massive changes at County Hall give us some hope that the outsourcing policy may change, but nothing is certain. Our local councillors are all supportive, and we continue to maintain links through Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries and we are keeping in close touch with the committee chair to share our concerns. At our AGM I got unanimous support for the following motion - which was also enthusiastically supported by other members via e-mail:

Professionally run Public Libraries are an important local service, open to all and contributing to the health, education, creativity and economic wellbeing of the community. That is why local authorities are required by law to provide them. All the evidence tells us that outsourcing the Herefordshire Library Service will not save money in the long run, but it is very likely to lead to a further reduction in the opening hours and the professional staffing of our libraries. Please do not outsource Herefordshire Libraries.

Clare Llewellyn West, Chair of RLDG September 2019

Fundraising

In past years we have purchased folding seats, thanks to Herefordshire Community Foundation and Comic Relief; 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 to replace the very scruffy old ones. In 2017 we commissioned and installed a new noticeboard at the front of the library and we also purchased a wonderful treasury of Lego to allow the library team to start a Lego club. In addition we made a generous contribution to the Ross Gazette digitisation project. Our own fundraising in 2016 was boosted by 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 has now been done as part of the capital works carried out by Herefordshire Council in Spring 2018. We took the opportunity to pay to add wheels to the remaining adult bookcases in the main library mobile so that the space can be more easily used for larger events. With the main funding pressures being on staffing, we are concentrating on funding events and activities in the library - from children's art and craft workshops, to music, drama and storytelling and even a visiting planetarium! As always we are keeping in touch with library staff to see where we might make the best contribution.

Campaigning

The Sieghart Independent report on the Public Library Service was published, (read it here) and led to the establishment of a national Library Task Force. However, library 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 was 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 was closed that time around. The latest developments include bringing other services into the library - which was the reason for major restructuring in Ross Library early in 2018. There has also been a period of "soft" market testing to see if any organisation would be interested in taking over management of the library service. We regret that the Council decided to move forward on this despite strong opposition and clearly expressed concerns from library supporters. There have been major changes in the council following the May 2019 elections, so plans may change. We continue to watch developments and lobby actively. Keep track of events via our Facebook page.

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