Library user puts it all in perspective…
Janene Cox, Assistant Director for Culture and Libraries in Staffordshire, blogs about her day on the job and an email from a library user that lifted her day.
This morning I got into work prepared for several meetings on Outcome Planning, which Staffordshire County Council is now immersed in following the completion of our Strategic Plan and agreement of the budget.
We have 9 key outcomes at a County level, and I am the County Lead for Outcome 7 – which is ‘Staffordshire’s communities can access, enjoy and benefit from a range of learning, recreational and cultural activities’
I am now on the 2nd draft and it was beginning to feel like quite a tortuous activity and I had begun to think about what is the actual outcome that we do want for our communities by providing this –and then a fantastic email popped into my inbox.
Like many Library Services we provide the space for, and in some instances host, Knit and Natter groups in many of our libraries. We are aware that for many people these are a hugely beneficial social network, but sometimes it can be very hard to quantify this. I am going to quote from a section of the email which I recieved as it really does make the outcome from this activity so apparent:
‘It was a big decision when I reached retirement age to step down from the profession I loved ….. The change was eased initially by continuing part time for two years in one of my many roles as an assistant Head teacher in a large comprehensive school…. Then came the gradual realisation that I really knew no-one locally except for an immediate neighbour… it was as if my husband and I were marooned on a desert island!
I began to experience the isolation of the older person who has no cause to frequent the school, the pub or the church.
Then one day… a total stranger suggested I come to the ‘knit and Natter’ group at Biddulph Library.
It seems an exaggerated claim, I know, but the ensuing visit to the library has made such a radical change to my life. As a result, not only do I have a group of friends who share a common interest, who can offer support, advice, humour … but also a function in the community.’
The email goes onto explain how they have become involved in the Town Council, the Community Association and has a voice in a myriad of local issues and developments.
The email is completed with the final statement:
‘I really want you to know how very much appreciated the library is. It is not only the place for physical resources…but it quietly , unassumingly provides the real social networking that permits individuals to grow within and as part of a community’
I am sure that you would all agree a fantastic outcome and something which we just do- and we need to get so much better in telling these stories- I am currently working out how I weave this into both the Outcome Plan, my next Scrutiny update and Member briefing. It really powerfully makes the case for Libraries within rural settings and also supports the really important work that we do in terms of individuals and Communities health and well being.
So I now feel much better about my morning….