Bernard Hall, Cuddington
By Haddenham Webteam - 21st September 2019 9:30am
The Haddenham Community Library is a wonderful village resource, not just for the traditional lending services but also for providing a wide range of online services and a delightful venue for clubs to gather and for public meetings of various kinds. Its continuing existence is very dependent on the superb staffing support provided by unpaid volunteers and its trustees, to whom the village community owes a significant debt of gratitude.
On Thursday 19th September library trustees held their annual general meeting to update attendees on the Library's continuing successes and challenges.
Here's a summary statement delivered at the meeting by the Trust Chairman, Steve Sharp.
Trust Chairman's Report 2019
Last year I reported the retirement of Larraine Gooch as a trustee. This year, John Brandis, one of the founding trustees back in 2012 and very influential in the development of HCL's vision and mission as a community hub for lifelong learning, has retired and is acting as 'consort' to his wife Judy in her year as the last Chairman of AVDC. Over the last year or two, we have been refreshed by new trustees, Kevin Johnson, Gill Bedding and Angel Dauterman Ordaz (whose new baby John Pablo is doing well).
Incidentally, four of our trustees are trained volunteers and have done regular shifts on the volunteer rota. This has been the 7th year continued dedication of volunteers during a difficult year for the HCL leadership
We are fortunate to enjoy the continued support of 'sponsors'. These include Parish Council, Rectory Homes (ref Simon Vickers, President), Haddenham Rotary, Garden Centre, Mummers, Haddenham Screen, Haddenham Fete, Village Society, Haddenham Masonic Lodge, the Christmas Tree Festival, Haddenham U3A etc — shows the breadth of support, in kind and goodwill not just money We hope all these will continue — indeed without them we would be in trouble — and we hope to develop new links with the major companies who are relocating to Haddenham.
Partnership with BCC — vital; one of 14 community libraries, all different; regular meetings with senior staff; daily support through Spydus and being part of the county network for stock and reservations Excellent support over the year from Karen Hills, area manager, who is here tonight. County stock allocations are augmented by use of our own book fund and the many donations of books we receive.
Which brings me to reflect on our staffing over the year. Our staff are employed by the County Council and 'seconded' to HCL through the partnership. Our manager Emma Foster went off on sick leave in May and finally resigned in October, almost a year ago. Alison Gilbert (Ali to us all) stepped up to the plate and kept the ship afloat brilliantly with the volunteers. In April, after we agreed with BCC to reduce staffing from two to one, she was officially appointed manager only for her husband Clive, who has also been a great help to the library in all sorts of ways, to get a new job in Devon. So the recruitment process had to start again. The good news is that Debbie Hekkink from Wendover has been appointed from a strong field and will join us early next month.
Statistics and events
Susan Toner, our vice-chair and regular shift volunteer, has played a vital role. Not least in recent months when I have had family preoccupations. Susan Toner will mention some facts and figures and report on the various activities and events, regular and occasional.
Tim Mozley will summarise our financial position. He has been our treasurer and kept us safe for years, as well as doing volunteer shifts. He will explain how the grant from the County Council is reducing, the departure of the Children's Centre who have had exclusive use of the library on Mondays and Wednesdays and paid us rent, and how we need to launch an appeal to fund the extension, supplementing our reserves with extra funding.
Closure of the Children's Centre loses us £5K of rent and the main County Grant is tapering by 20% over the next two years. We are making a small saving by having only one member of staff — they have adjusted what we pay because they were too generous to start with! For the extension we estimate that we need to raise £35,000+ and will use some of our reserves.
The trustees, led by Hilary Vickers, have been developing a strategic plan for the next few years. We have restructured our meetings to have smaller subgroups action-planning on various issues and then reporting to the main board every two months for decisions — it's a work in progress.
Our top priority is to develop and slightly extend the building to support our community role. Last year we invested our reserves in the Children's area, which has met universal approval. Peter Mason is leading on this, working with Alex Bond at PCMS, architectural designers on Thame Road. Here is a drawing of what is planned. The main aim is to provide a disabled toilet for library users, a coffee point and a small meeting room. We have planning permission for a rather larger extension, but costs have led us to pull in our horns. We are now seeking revised approvals, including from the Banks Park Trust (our landlord) and the County Council from whom we have a sublease to their main lease to the Parish Council — I know, it's complicated!
Other priorities are to improve our marketing and publicity and to create a Friends organisation. At present none of the 2500 library members registered with BCC are 'our' members and we cannot communicate with them direct because of data protection regulations.
We are also making the premises an increasingly attractive venue for outside organisations, as Susan has mentioned. Important in this is improving audio-visual facilities, led by Gill Bedding, who may wish to explain why you can see the agenda and hear me clearly at the meeting this evening.