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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First meeting of Friends of Sea Mills Library

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.

Next meeting

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.

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The council’s consultation is ending soon

Sea Mills Library is one of 7 Bristol libraries under threat of closure. The council have been carrying out some consultation to garner opinions and strength of feeling of residents. If you want to see the library remain open, you need to let the council know!

They are currently running a survey online at: then click “get involved” and then “online survey”.
This stage of the consultation ends on 30 June 2015, and the more people that complete the survey, the better.

If you or someone you know needs help completing the form, or if you would like to complete it on a paper form instead of online, please come to Sea Mills Library where they will be more than willing to help you.

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