First there was the update from Stephen Palmer announcing the news:
It is with great sadness that I report that the original Alford volunteers are calling it a day after running the library on Thursdays for the last 18 months. The team of 12 volunteers unanimously decided to make the 17th July their last day.
The volunteers set up in April 2013, before LCCs plans came to light, to support the community by giving them another day of opening alongside the other days that the library opened under professional staff. Since the decision by Lincolnshire County Council to completely change the way Lincolnshire Libraries are to be run by taking 30 libraries out of statutory control and threatening closure if volunteers did not take over the day to day running and funding the library the group have noticed the support they used to get has effectively gone.
Alford library still has a separate group that have put in a business plan to take over the library but they cannot now rely on the support of the experienced group that had been opening the library up to now. In the short term this means the library will now only open for the 60% reduced professional run time pending the outcome of the judicial review.
It highlights to me the sustainability issue of volunteers and also how much you can push them before they say enough is enough. Most of the 12 will be carrying on with volunteering with other organisations in the Town that do not expect to much and offer on hand not remote support.
Then detailed comments from volunteer Janet Mackey:
When we as Alford Library Volunteers came together to support our Library and its staff to save the Library as it was, we had great expectations that we would ‘win the day’! Unfortunately since the consultation and the subsequent redundancies of professional staff, and now the Judicial Review have made us question the relevancy of our position. Yes the community have been right behind us and supported us on the extra 3 hours we opened the library, because they also hoped that the Library could be saved as it was. Stephen is quite right in saying that we were happy as a group in volunteering supported by LCC Library staff, as the responsibility is still squarely on their shoulders.
As a mainly retired group of professional and semi-professional people we really didn’t want the responsibility which is to come with completely Volunteered led Community Groups. To coin a phrase ‘we’ve worked all our working lives’ and in retirement we hoped to be able to make a difference to helping in the community NOT taking full responsibility!! …
We as a group decided to call it a day now, while there is still some library cover in town. The whole process going forward is only going to get more complicated (as only the council can make it!) and having supported the library and enjoyed our own sessions, didn’t want to get the blame for volunteers not taking up the cause in the future!! We have been well supported by our Library Area Manager until May of this year, but they are now so stretched themselves covering branches with no staff because LCC went ahead with redundancies regardless of the consequences. So it was time for us as a group to go!!
The decision to stop volunteering at Alford was not made lightly, as we have all enjoyed our time at the Library… We will still be supporting SLL in their efforts with the Judicial Review. Lets hope LCC are held to account.
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A fund has been set up by campaigners to help Lincoln resident Simon Draper in his challenge of Lincolnshire County Council’s proposals to cut the library service by £2 million. The challenge will take place with a Judicial Review in the High Court in London on July 8 and 9.
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