"We 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) was formed and we play a very active part in its deliberations and activities. The latest development, which concerns us deeply, is the Council decision to offer contracts for the private management of libraries, museums and the Herefordshire Archive. Seeing events elsewhere in the country we feel this is an unwise move and we are watching progress keenly and making our views known as often as possible."
Clare Llewellyn West, Chair of RLDG August 2018
New folding seats and a storage trolley were purchased, thanks to Herefordshire Community Foundation and Comic Relief. These enable us, and other groups, to set up the Dennis Potter room for meetings and events more easily and without disrupting the rest of the library. The gate/barrier, purchased by donations from Severn Waste and our own funds, does not fit into the newly configured reception area, but is being kept for future use. 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 to replace the very scruffy old ones. In 2017 we 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 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, which is such a great way to improve access to the history of this area. 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 has now been done as part of the capital works carried out by Herefordshire Council to start 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. As always we are keeping in touch with library staff 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 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 at their June meeting, despite strong opposition and clearly expressed concerns from library supporters. Keep track of events via our Facebook page.