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Monthly Archives: July 2014
If you’re thinking of taking advantage of this great Summer heatwave and taking a trip to the beautiful beaches of North Devon then I’d highly recommend Braunton’s Fairlinch Camping. It’s on the edge of the village of Braunton with all its shops, pubs and restaurants and more importantly just a few minutes from the stunning beaches of Saunton Sands and Croyde. Above all it’s run by local farmer Richard Dyer who is as friendly, honest and straightforward a person as you’re ever likely to meet. It really is the real deal for authentic Summer camping in the West Country. Better still prices are just £9 per night for adults and £3 per night for under 12s with a special family deal of £20 per night for 2 adults and 2 children. There is still availability and if you’d like to book then call 07969 080873. Feel free to say that you read about the campsite here. You can also visit their website here.
Over 150 people have signed up to show interest in supporting a Friends of Braunton Library Group, clear encouragement to those of us styling ourselves the Founding Friends to get on with it.
As one of the people bringing the group together Paula Ferris says, “To me Braunton without a library is unthinkable. By that I mean a library that is professionally managed and run, benefitting from community input, but not dependent on it.”
Community input encompasses the traditional Friends’ role, the one envisaged in the County’s own Friends’ Guidelines.” But there is a much more pressing role. The sub-text of the utterly confusing Consultation Process appears to be that Devon County Council is looking to hold “conversations” with communities about the future of their library service and hopes appropriate groups will emerge from the process that they can talk to. We have staked a claim on behalf of the Friends of Braunton Library Group and will start engaging in these conversations. We are glad to note that the Parish Council has also indicated its interest.
Our current concern is that despite reclassifying Braunton Library as a Medium to Large library and appropriate for a Devon Centre Model we are still hearing representatives from Devon County Council talk about a “volunteer run or community run” library in Braunton. We welcome the decision by Councillor Roger Croad to reclassify Braunton Library reflecting its true usage and any future discussions regarding Braunton Library need to reflect its true usage and status as a Medium to Large Library and appropriate for the Devon Centre Model.
We wholeheartedly reject the proposal to hand Braunton Library over to the community or volunteers to run, even with support from a manager in Barnstaple or elsewhere. It is not sustainable due to the size and usage of the library and the catchment population it covers. We are also concerned about the lack of real evidence that community-managed libraries deliver real savings.
So what next?
We need to get Friends up and running with input from across the community. We have just installed a notice board in the Library, kindly donated by Slees, and a Suggestions Box, to share information and exchange ideas. Please use it.
Our first postings are the Founding Friends’ Response to the Consultation, and a draft Friends of Braunton Library Constitution. The Constitution has to be based on current County guidelines, which it is belatedly looking to revise, and is similar to those used elsewhere in North Devon. We have added a first aim that we hope you agree with – To support a Devon County Council run and funded Braunton Library employing professional staff, open 6 days a week. Your comments are welcome. The Constitution will be considered at the first general meeting which will be open to all and advertised here, in the Library and on a Parish Board.
What next? We hope to have a general meeting soon after the holiday season, and preliminary planning meetings beforehand for those who want to help – watch this space. County’s timetable is unclear but it is likely that serious discussions will start early in the autumn. Some libraries’ savings will need to be identified by April 2015.
Paula Ferris, Acting Chair
“I think it would be a shame for the library to close. It provides a good variety of books and is suitable for a range of ages. It gives people access to computers and using the internet if they do not own a computer at home, and its great if you want to read a book you can just borrow it and return it when you have finished. “
“You can borrow books sometimes you wouldn’t be able to afford”
“We want to read books”
“It’s local and easy to access when you need to find a book or some information for homework”
SAVE BRAUNTON LIBRARY CAMPAIGN CONSULTATION WITH CHILDREN
In June 2014 the Save Braunton Library campaign launched a new Consultation with Children with local primary school children (Year 2 to Year 6) to hear directly from them about their ideas and views on the future of their library.
An overwhelming 175 local children have taken part in the consultation sharing their personal views on the future of the library. The children who have taken part in the survey attend a variety of local primary schools including Caen Community Primary School, Georgeham Primary School, Southmead Primary School, West Down Primary School, Kingsacre Primary School, and Newport Community School Primary Academy.
Braunton Library is particularly well used by children and youth. Devon County Council figures show that children and teen stock make up 30% of all loans and nearly a third of all under 18s actively use the library. The children’s consultation was launched because local people said that the official consultation forms are very complicated and the public meetings have been held during school hours or late in the evening, thus excluding the views of children. Children and young people are in and out of the library the whole time and they have lots of ideas about its future. It is vital that children’s views are actively sought out and listened to.
This consultation findings have be submitted to Devon County Council to help inform decisions about the future of Braunton Library.
- The majority of children who took part in the consultation visit Braunton library (87%) and enjoy the library (85%).
- Children said they like the variety of books on offer, the children’s section, friendly atmosphere, activities in the library and the fact it is convenient and easy to borrow books with one child saying “It’s local and easy to access when you need to find a book or some information for homework”.
- When asked how to make the library better the main suggestion is to increase the opening hours. In the last round of cuts the library was closed half the week and children want the library open longer hours saying “open it every day”, “open longer”, “longer opening hours”, “open more times after school”.
- When asked for any further comments there were many children who shared concern about the future of the library saying “don’t close it!”. Children also raised concerns about not being able to access a library in Barnstable if Braunton Library is to close.
- Children made creative and practical suggestions on how to improve the library including “more seating”, “have a homework area for kids after school”, “more David Walliams Books”, “chess club”, “board games like monopoly” and a “longer time to borrow books”.
- It was also noted that some children from outside Braunton answered the consultation as they were visiting the area to see grandparents.
- 175 children from six different local primary schools took part in the consultation
- 87% of children said that they go to Braunton Library
- 85% of children said that they enjoy Braunton Library
- Half (52%) the children visit the library after school
- Just over half (57%) of children visit the library on a Saturday
- The majority of children borrow books (86%) with nearly half borrowing DVDs (49%) and 17% of children saying that they use the computers.
What do children like about the library?
- Variety of Books: The most popular answer was about the large range of books. Children highlighted the large range of books and books for all ages. For example: “Has a good selection of books and helps with my reading” and “The varied category of books, so there’s one for everyone”.
- Friendly atmosphere: Children like the friendly atmosphere: “Friendly, helpful, useful, quiet, good for kids”, “its nice and friendly”, “I always feel welcome to come and read a book or talk to the librarians”, “the people who work there are kind and helpful”, “The library helps me learn”.
- The Children’s Section: Many respondents specifically highlighted the children section as a positive place to visit and spend time, and “there is a kids section so you know where to go”.
- Ease of use: Children highlighted the fact that it is easy to use the service, for example “I like that you can just take things and bring them back”, it is “convenient”, “lots of different books all sorted in A-Z order”, “that you can pick books for free”, “I can walk past it on the way home”, “I like that it is next to the school”, and “you can easily get there”.
- Activities: Children enjoy the range of activities including “the badges for rewarding a certain amount of books”, “going to the activities the library arranges during the school holidays”, “loved going to sing and rhyme in the library”. One child said “My sister enjoys visiting the library with her nursery Caen Caterpillars and listening to the staff read her and her friends a story”,
How could we make it better?
- Opening times: The main suggestion from the children is about the opening hours, children said “open it every day”, “open longer”, “longer opening hours”, “open more times after school”.
- Practical suggestions: Children made very practical suggestions such as “more places to sit”, “a quiet corner”, and “more comfy seating”.
A number of people are coming together to form a Friends of Braunton Library Group to help support the long term future of Braunton Library. As a first step the group wanted to send in a response to the fromal consultation.
Here are some headlines from the Submission to Devon County Council and you can read the full Friends of Braunton Library Submission.
Braunton Library sits at the heart of our community. It is a well-used and much loved library covering Braunton and surrounding villages such as Croyde, Georgeham, Woolacombe and West Down, and much of the support and goodwill towards the library is down to the great work being done by the librarians.
We wholeheartedly support the letter sent to Devon County Council on 9th June 2014 by our longest running book group expressing their “dismay, disbelief and disappointment” at the news of more proposed cuts to Braunton Library. Braunton Library in particular was hit very hard in the last round of cuts resulting in the library being closed for 16.5 hours a week. Any decision about more cuts should not be made in isolation from the previous harsh cuts.
Despite the poor quality consultation process we wanted to take the opportunity to share our views to shape the decisions being made by Devon County Council:
1) We welcome the decision by Councillor Roger Croad to reclassify Braunton Library reflecting its true usage. Any future discussions regarding Braunton Library need to reflect its true usage and status as a Medium to Large Library and appropriate for the Devon Centre Model.
2) We wholeheartedly reject the proposal to hand Braunton Library over to the community or volunteers to run, even with support from a manager in Barnstaple or elsewhere. It is not sustainable due to the size and usage of the library and the catchment population it covers. We are also concerned about the lack of real evidence that community-managed libraries deliver real savings.
3) We do believe that it is appropriate to look at a creative solution for Braunton Library working with a range of stakeholders in order to create a Devon Centre Model. We know that there are social enterprises and other services interested in joining together with Devon County Council in this effort supported by a Friends of Braunton Library group. However, we need a clear commitment from Devon County Council to make this work. Our aim is for the library to be open 6 days a week with Devon County Council focusing its investment on keeping professional staff employed in Braunton. We believe that sharing premises and running costs will provide Devon County Council with savings but a sustainable future cannot be achieved without professional staff in place in Braunton and long term commitment to the model from Devon County Council.
There is an overwhelming amount of goodwill and support for Braunton Library and its librarians and there is the potential for a strong and vibrant Friends of Braunton Library Group to be established. However this community goodwill will be undermined if Devon County Council try to hand over its responsibilities by removing professional staff from Braunton or cutting opening hours.
We expect Devon County Council to manage the libraries in its network, to provide an accountable and professional service sustainable into the future, drawing on support from the community where practicable. We give our support to some form of Community Supported Library in Braunton, with the intention of achieving its greater integration with the wider community and “improving the offer”.
We look forward to working alongside the Library Service to explore ways of achieving a brighter future for Braunton Library
Founding members of the Friends of Braunton Library Group
 The Braunton Library Group has met in Braunton Library every Monday morning for 17 years and has raised over £4,500 for new books.
 A recent Warwickshire Scrutiny paper which considered the impact of community-managed libraries 18 months after their establishment found that the level of support required from the Council on a day-to-day basis from volunteers was so significant that, in real terms, it may not be saving the Council very much money