Landmark for Staffordshire libraries

Wednesday, 21st August 2019

STAFFORDSHIRE’S flagship community library programme is celebrating a major milestone.

This month’s transfer of the day-to-day management and delivery of Penkridge library to Penkridge Parish Council is the 27th successful completion and marks the end of the fourth phase of this four-year community library programme.

Staffordshire’s library service now has more than 950 volunteers contributing at its 27 community-run libraries and the 16 that remain under direct council management.

In Tamworth, Glascote and Wilnecote libraries are part of the Community Library programme.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This has been a long and thoughtful process since 2015 to make our smaller libraries more relevant to their communities by empowering groups to take on their day-to-day running and introduce a whole range of new ideas alongside the core library service.

“It has only been possible because of Staffordshire people’s passion for their local libraries and their enthusiasm to make a difference in their communities.”

Under the contract, community groups deliver the statutory library service and they have access to Staffordshire County Council’s stock and IT network, with support and guidance from professional library staff, while the authority remains responsible for agreed utility and maintenance costs.

Successful management bodies include Rotarians, an NHS trust, a church group, town and parish councils, and several community groups.

Additional services provided at community managed libraries fit in with several of the county council’s strategic priorities including promoting education and skills, children and families, and health and wellness. The services include job clubs, IT and online awareness courses, PCSO and Police surgeries, ‘stay and play’ sessions, CAB advice, as well as clubs for model making, chess and drama.

Gill Heath said: “Libraries have always been regarded as safe spaces for people of all ages to study, relax and seek inspiration.

“Now we’re building on that by developing additional services and expanding the role of the library in the community.

“There are many things on offer for communities and all the libraries play a strong role in reducing loneliness and social isolation.”

Penkridge Parish Council has taken over day-to-day management of Penkridge this month. It is the fifth and final library transfer in the fourth round, following in the recent footsteps of:

  • Cheadle, to the Cheadle Community Information and Resource Group;
  • Cheslyn Hay, to the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix;
  • Clayton, to the Business Enterprise Support Ltd, which already successfully manages nearby Silverdale library;
  • Eccleshall, to the Rotary Club of Eccleshall Mercia.

Gill Heath added: “We pride ourselves on the quality of support that we provide to the community groups and I pay tribute to the hundreds of people who give of their time, energy and enthusiasm.”

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