We held our first meeting of the Friends group on Wednesday 6 May 2015. There has been an assessment of all libraries in Bristol, and these have been available to view in the library. Here is the document that Bristol City Council has produced regarding Sea Mills Library: Click (PDF: 527kb).
Notes were produced by Tim Wallis, who chaired the meeting.
Current condition of Library
Official assessment of SM library: general disagreement with much of the Assessment. ‘Not particularly good condition didn’t strike us as appropriate or helpful, the building seems in good heart and mostly well adapted to its use. Single toilet not considered a problem (but agreed not accessible for wheelchair users), however the library service cannot afford to clean it. ‘Very cramped staff area’ was visited by some members and seemed Ok. Looking at outdoor area there seemed to be space for an addition.
Suggested main options
Footfall possibly not so much of a problem as Assessment suggests. Agreed that major route from Coombe Dingle etc passes Library on the way to Sea Mills Square shops, Methodist and St Edyth’s churches, Surgery and Primary School.
In considering how a group of volunteers could contribute to keeping the Library operating the meeting preferred it to remain in its current form/location as against any alternative discussed – such as sharing the floorspace with a different user (although the practicalities of this were briefly discussed. Self-service libraries, as in Leeds, were mentioned.
Trying to find a new location for the Library was not favoured, partly because the meeting don’t consider existing footfall a major problem.
Sharing with another user in another location (i.e. the unused school building) would make the footfall problem much worse.
Relocating to a shop premises didn’t seem practical due to limited space, plus heavy rent bill.
The meeting agreed the existing building should not be boarded up or demolished to make way for ‘development’. It is an integral part of the fabric of the Garden Suburb.
One suggestion considered the philosophy of volunteer-led involvement was about adding value to the Library.
Role of volunteers and Bristol City Council
Hayley Ash, Neighbourhood Coordinator made these points: Central Library would act as a training centre; volunteers involvement could range from ‘minding the shop’ through actively helping a reduced staff, to actually operating as a franchise. Anything new will not be led by BCC. The volunteers would have to take ownership (presumably if it came to an Asset Transfer arrangement). Hayley will now approach potential interested bodies re sharing the space, and will speak to Kirsteen at the school, I will also register the Friends interests with the Library.
It was suggested a pedestrian crossing would be needed on Sylvan Way.
Engaging more people
Ella Davies and Ben Park offered to create a website and Facebook page – there are many ‘BS9’ pages. This would target key age groups and the idea was welcomed.
The library space could be of value to clubs, events, cake sales etc etc which would raise funds for the libtrary. Helen Caton mentioned the making of scarecrows under the school’s forthcoming PTFA event. One will be stationed in the library.
There are several petitions being signed and we should keep an eye on possible recruits from those lists.
It was agreed to meet 5.30 next Thursday 14 May.
Thanks to library service for hosting us and particularly Neil for staying to (a) rearrange the furniture, and (b) kick us out well after we should have left.