Volunteers set to take over Mitcheldean Library
VOLUNTEERS are revved up and ready to take on the running of Mitcheldean Library.
Villagers from Longhope, Mitcheldean, Drybrook and Ruardean have clubbed together to keep the popular library running at full strength despite Gloucestershire County Council's decision to cut more than 30 hours of staffing per week under savings plans.
The Mitcheldean Library Action Group set up the new GL17 Community Hub in April to take on the responsibility and has since been working with the county council towards a seamless handover in November.
Andrew Maliphant, chairman of GL17, said the group's vision for the library is to join it up with other key services including hosting a training centre for Gloucestershire College.
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He said: "We are busy moving forward from last year's campaigns to rolling up our sleeves and making sure the library stays forever.
"There's a great buzz in developing new services with the college and there are a lot of ways people can get involved, from cataloguing new books to organising special events and working with young people."
Twenty volunteers have already had a day's training in Mitcheldean library in how to run its systems, and are now job shadowing county librarians.
One of the volunteers is county and district councillor for the area Brian Robinson, who said he thought the move would act as a catalyst for Mitcheldean's community development.
He said: "This is not about propping up the library service in Mitcheldean, but us as a community moving it forwards and improving what we already have.
"We have been shadowing library staff and I think we will be in good shape to take over the running from November. It has been really interesting learning the library skills including book stocks and rotation as well as checking them in and out.
"The hours will remain the same, so the change should be seamless as possible.
"Our ideal is that the customer will not notice from one day to the other whether the library is being run by volunteers or by professional staff."
The county council will continue to provide technical and financial support, and everyone will still be able to use their library cards but management will be in the hands of volunteers.
All the services will remain as before, and there will be added activities such as computing classes run by Gloucestershire College.
There will also be a bring and share supper in the library from 7pm on Wednesday, September 19 for the whole community to come along and find out more about the exciting plans in store.