Notes from today’s Trustees’ meeting

While Steve from Kell Developments was getting started on work in the library, the trustees met this morning and we can report that:

  • The first cohort of additional trustees have been agreed, following receipt of references. An ‘induction’ will be held in May
  • The Library Sub-Committee has been appointed and will now start work on working out the processes and systems needed
  • An updated on the building works and costs and use of the grants and donations received so far was discussed
  • We will establish a ‘200 Club’ to raise funds that will be ring fenced for our ‘Book Fund’ – look out for details!
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Thank you David Armstrong

Earlier today, and ahead of his retirement next week, the Assistant Chief Executive of Wirral Council, David Armstrong, held a ‘leaving do’ at Birkenhead Town Hall for those with whom he has worked with most closely during his 34 years with Wirral Council.

Why are we posting this? Well, quite simply, without David’s support and action in the years leading up to the transfer of Wallasey Village Library to our charity, it would have closed forever. Finito.

When Wallasey Village Library Friends and local councillors, asked for the roof to be replaced; the footpath to be relaid and the interior to be redecorated by Prince’s Trust, it was David who cut through the Council red-tape and made it happen.

Had some of that work, along with other maintenance issues, not taken place, we would not have been able to afford to take on the building.

So, on behalf of all of us, thank you David Armstrong. We cannot thank you enough for all you have done.

We look forward to welcoming you when we re-open.

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Week One…

So, after months (and months) of discussions, negotiations and legal ‘stuff’, on Monday we finally received the keys to the library.

Over the week, more than 60 people called in to lend a hand and get stuck in as we prepared the building for the arrival, next week, of our contractors, Wallasey-based Kell Developments. We were blown away by the level of support by the community. This meant that every task we’d identified for this week was completed.

All four of the current trustees (Sarah Jones, Ray Lyons, Nadina McShane and me) got stuck in but our efforts were outshone by the commitment, hard graft and dedication of Ian McGinn, our chosen partner to run the (Baked) cafe. If he has his feet up with a beer or two tonight, he deserves it.

On Tuesday, Ed Barnes, the Local Democracy Reporter for the Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe spent some time with us, talking to people about why the library matters to our community and we are grateful for the articles he published:

Volunteers hope to bring ‘buzz’ back as library set to reopen (Wirral Globe)

Wonderful’ new café plans hope to bring ‘buzz’ back to village (Liverpool Echo)

We also had visits from the council’s appointed heating engineers (who tried) to explain the heating system to us and the ‘water people’ to chlorinate the water supply.

While this is very much a team effort and we don’t want to embarrass anyone, several people deserve a ‘special’ thanks for going above and beyond the call of duty this week…

  • Butlers Skips, based in Wallasey, who provided a skip at short notice to remove the accumulated rubbish that was left in the building. Need a skip? call 0151 691 0900
  • Ben and Tim from St George’s Primary School who lent various bits of equipment, helped to move various unwanted items and clean up
  • Barbara (Wallasey Village Library Friends) who cajoled and corralled members of the Friends and ‘walkers’ to don the marigolds to remove 80+ years of grime from the book shelves
  • Nikki Groves, Senior Community Asset Officer at Wirral Council, who has responded to every query and request (ever since we started but especially this week), including sorting today’s leak in the basement…

From the day we first thought of re-opening the library, we always believed that it would be supported by the community. This week has proved it. Thanks everyone.

P.S. If anyone has ‘acquired’ a black bucket, Barbara would like it back. No questions asked.

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Meeting our potential new trustees

We were chuffed to have so many people express an interest in joining us as trustees, to run our charity and reopen the library.

Altogether, an incredible 11 people have volunteered to (potentially) get involved in this way.

We held a couple of ‘open sessions’ at the (very cold and unheated) library. We were really impressed by the enthusiasm of everyone we met.

Last Tuesday, the current four trustees (Ray, Nadina, Sarah and Ian) met to agree the formal process (as suggested by the Charity Commission).

Earlier today, each of the 11 were sent the Commission’s Declaration of Eligibility to complete and return to us (by 1 March).

We’ll then send them a ‘Trustee Pack’ that we’re putting together, with a deadline of 15 March for that to be completed and returned to us.

After that, we will confirm the names of our new trustees and invite them to an ‘induction’ session, which St George’s Primary has kindly agreed to host, so at least we know it will be warm…

N.B. We’ve now removed the ‘trustee’ option on the ‘Get Involved’ page.

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162 supporters…

If you’ve survived Christmas, New Year, Storm Isha and Storm Jocelyn, congratulations! As a bonus, I’ve found the password to get into this website.

We’ve just emailed 162 people who are supporting, interested or involved in our work to reopen Wallasey Village Library. To sign up to receive future emails, click on the ‘get involved’ tab and we’ll add you to the circulation list.

Last week, we heard from the Assistant Director overseeing the council’s part in the lease negotiations. We’re really grateful to David Ball for all his help with this. He confirmed:

  1. The Agreement for Lease (‘AFL’) is drafted.
  2. A schedule of works needs to be added which technical colleagues are progressing with a further meeting on site this week I understand.
  3. Once the schedule is completed then we will send this along with the AFL.

If that’s gone over your head, well, you and me both but it means that, with the help of Hill Dickinson (who are acting for us, for free), we will soon be able to give access to the building to our appointed contractors…

The trustees will be meeting again in a couple of weeks and we’ll report back after that.

Visit to Cornerstone Library

Three of us from Wallasey Village Library meet with Paul from Cornerstone Library.This afternoon, three of us paid a visit to The Cornerstone Library, in Churchtown, Southport. Ten years ago, most of the branch libraries in Sefton were closed, leaving some communities (such as Churchtown) without a library. We can relate!

Now, after a great deal of work and fantastic support from the community (again, we can relate!), a library has been opened, and is run by a local charity, the North Meols Library Association.

It was invaluable to hear from Rosie, Joan and Paul (three of their volunteers) on what they have found works, the plans and safeguards they have made and how they lend their 2,000+ stock of books.

Most of our questions centred on their use of the ‘Simple Little Library System’ that enables library members to browse the books that are available, see the new titles, reserve and renew borrowing. You can see how Cornerstone use their system here.

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Great response to our newsletter

We’re working our way through the first responses to our newsletter. So far, around 60 people have been in touch to offer support, offer donations or get involved as a volunteer at the library or a trustee for the charity.

We’ll respond to everyone who gets in touch but, in case you’re wondering…

  • if you have items to donate (books, CDs etc) please hang on to them for now. We don’t have day to day access to the library and have nowhere to store donations. Please DON’T leave items on the library steps…
  • Volunteers will be needed in the library but haven’t yet finalised that part of the plan. Please sign up using the ‘get involved’ tab above and we’ll be in touch when we’ve got a better idea.
  • Trustee offers are coming in and so we’ve agreed to hold an informal ‘open evening’ or ‘drop in’ event for those who are interested – this will probably be in January. Again, use the ‘get involved’ tab above.
  • Some great ideas (and requests) for using the community space are also being received. We haven’t yet agreed the schedule of hire charges but will keep a list of all enquiries.

Thanks to everyone for your interest and support for this project!

Trustee meeting: November

This month’s trustees meeting was kindly hosted by Community Soul.

  • We reviewed recent discussions with Wirral Council and works they need to carry out on the building – mainly electrical.
  • Our plan to install CCTV, inside and around the exterior of the building
  • The remodelling and redecoration works of the interior, to create three dedicated areas for the library, community centre and cafe. Special thanks to Ian McGinn for working with potential contractors and obtaining estimates for works
  • Progress on delivery of our newsletter, and how offers of help will be acknowledged
  • Our next funding bids, which will include an application to the National Lottery and also, following a successful ‘expression of interest’, an application to the Community Ownership Fund
  • As offers from potential additional trustees are now being received, it was agreed we would respond to each one ahead of an ‘open day’ in January to meet anyone who wishes to join us.