Second meeting of Friends of Sea Mills Library

We held our second meeting of the Friends of Sea Mills Library on Thursday 14th May 2015 at Sea Mills Library. The following notes were produced by Tim Wallis, who chaired the meeting.

Present: Present: Vivian Gellett, Bryan Gellett, Gabriel Lodge, David Lodge, Ella Davies, Ben Park, Stephen Finch, Alison Finch, Anita Sims, Ron Sims, Alana Farrell, Cllr Tim Leaman, Mary Macey, Tim Wallis (convener).

Notes of first meeting were referred to and following matters discussed:
G Lodge: take BCC’s argument apart, e.g. staff costs, to show groupings based on false premises.
Cllr Leaman: strategy is critical: Stephen Finch’s petition is a part of this: we have to make it difficult for BCC to close our library — we have been targeted — Friends must become part of the solution. Learn from other cases like ours – he will get Cllr Gollop to discuss W-o-T situation with us.
Ron Sims: many of ‘group 3’ libraries are on same floorplan. Upgrading would benefit from standardisation.
Anita Sims: SML is an important feature within the conservation area and redevelopment must be resisted.

Other points made:
T Wallis, A & R Sims to contact Sea Mills Together at their May 21st meeting re identifying groups — also the School — other groups need to be involved and got on side.
IT should be upgraded now, not wait for consultation outcomes:
Cllr Leaman will help with political approach (Sea Mills has a vibrant community – many new families moving in to our ‘affordable housing’, so why close our library?’).
Discussion around Community Centre, eg its charitable status, as part of a community hub would its management be compatible, can it be part of a Community Plan? – this could be discussed with Cllr Gollop (or Mayor Ferguson if he can be persuaded to visit).
Do we need a community event at some stage? School Fair 6 June to have a library stall.
Alana Farrell: Very important that Sylvan Way has a pedestrian crossing (Cllr Leaman said this could be done for £4000). Also this would help establish the N/S route as a viable route helping to ameliorate SML’s isolated ‘geographical position’.

During the meeting members handed in lists of voluntary tasks they felt able to take on if it came to needing volunteers to reduce library costs. These included help with:
Children’s reading: sorting/shelving books: answering phones: walking trains: reading groups: promotion (of the Friends, the Library and the area): organising events e.g. sales; website/IT skills: accountancy.

Other information: a document recording the last consultation meeting held with Kate Murray, Head of Libraries came to hand accidentally. Two items seemed relevant to our purposes, (1) recorded against Sea Mills — ‘Some people would like to see the site remain a council library but we have also heard from people who would prefer the site to be used as a community space. There have also been discussions about possible alternative sites for some sort of library provision.’ This is reflected in almost every one of the seven ‘group 3’ libraries except for Wick Road where the strong preference for staying as a library resulted in ‘no engagement with the community regarding other options’. (2) Of the seven libraries in ‘group 3’ consultations show that in Sea Mills 23% agree with its grouping. Percentages in the other 6 libraries range from 6% (Wick Rd) to 42% (Eastville). Wick Rd is right next to the local shopping area and Eastville is the most isolated from its community.

Next meeting: It was agreed to meet 5.00 pm Thursday 21 May. This is to allow some members to attend the SMT meeting at 6pm.

Additional note by Ben Park:

I spoke to Cllr Tim Leaman after the meeting ended and we did a speed test of the broadband in the library premises. According to the website – the library Internet download speed was reporting at around 1.5Mb/s. To put this into some perspective regards local achievable speeds, I re-ran this test at my house 10 minutes later, one street from the library, and it was more than 30Mb/s. While I’m with a reasonably good broadband provider, I don’t consider my speed exceptional or unusual in 2015, and can see no reason for the library being so slow.

There has been complaints from users regarding the Internet speeds in the library, and this is something Cllr Tim Leaman will investigate, as it would undoubtedly make Sea Mills residents less likely to visit for the free wifi, or to use the library computers, with stories circulating about it taking someone 40 minutes to open/print an email.

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