LIBRARY MEETING – DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE OF RAISING GRANT MONIES?
– if so, the trustees at Upper Norwood library would love to hear from you.
Their request for help came at the public meeting called by the trustees to update the community on the current situation facing Upper Norwood library. (See separate story).
The trustees are also looking for volunteers who can spare two to three hours a week to help in the library.
“We know there’s a huge amount of talent, enthusiasm and support in the community – we’d love to harness that” said Emma Sharville, who co-chairs the trust.
Opening the meeting Emma Sharville said they had formed about a year ago – out of the original Upper Norwood Library Campaign – to ask Lambeth and Croydon councils if the community could take over the running of the library.
“We want to ensure Crystal Palace can have a professionally-run library for residents.
“At the time we recognised we were in a bit of a stalemate – that the councils that were funding the library (Lambeth and Croydon) had an agreement that had essentially fallen apart.
“We feel we can maintain the library service through a mixed funding model but as a community organisation be able to generate our own funding and earning income ourselves.
“We’ve not been as public as we should have been because we’ve been battling away – so please excuse us.”
The trust have already raised £70,000 for business development, a 50-page business plan had been written and submitted to Lambeth council over the summer, and 10 donated laptops were now available to use in the library,
“We’re doing this but we’re not yet running the library. “We’ve about £200,000 of bids which we hope will generate some business projects in the library.”
They wanted to restore the library to five-day opening, to be more self-sustaining in the future, to protect against further funding uncertainty. a minimum three-year funding settlement and to appoint a director who would work in the library to implement, raise funds and start generating some income.
“We also want to develop new ideas – start small so if they work, grow them and build a learning educational hub. “They’re quite big plans but we believe that in the economic climate you’ve got to have big plans to survive. “They’ve got to be robust.
“What’s unclear is what funding is on the table. “We’re currently waiting feedback from both officers and councillors.”
Robbie Gibson, who co-chairs the trust, said they wanted to ensure there was a lot more digital, historical and cultural creativity. “With support and investment it has so much more to give.”
The meeting was attended by around 100 people despite the heavy rain which had fallen during most of the day and had carried on into the evening.
“We thought we’d get about five people” said Emma Sharville.”It just goes to show the support there is in the community for the library.”
Messages of support were received from Southwark Cllr Helen Hayes (Lab, College ward) and Croydon North MP Steve Reed.
Cllr Hayes, who is Labour Parliamentary candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood, said the library is a vital and much loved facility. It was vital the trust was supported. If the working funding model for the library was a success, that model could be used elsewhere.
Steve Reed said: “I’m 100 per cent with you on this. “We need clarification on what both councils intentions are.”
A question and answer session followed the meeting, which had included a lot of political point-scoring. George Filbey, a former Croydon Conservative councillor for Upper Norwood ward and library supporter was hissed by a section of the audience.
Mr Filbey, describing himself as “a former Tory and a former councillor” told the meeting: “I enbtreat all of you to steer away from the politics and get on with (the library).”
Bromley Cllr Richard Williams (Lab, Crystal Palace ward) agreed with Mr Filbey but pointed out that while Bromley had extended opening hours at their Biggin Hill and West Wickham libraries, they had shut Anerley library.
Library trustee Laura Wright, who acted as the ‘roving mike’ at the meeting, asked the audience “to acknowledge the library staff who are here tonight.”
Her request got the loudest – and longest – applause of the night.
PS: IF YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER please email [email protected] The trustees wish to make it clear volunteering would be enhancing or providing additional services. “We are committed to a professionally staffed library – just want to make sure there is no confusion and of course the trustees are volunteers!” said a spokesman.