Volunteers take over Byfleet library
By mattcollison | Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 17:59
VOLUNTEERS are now running Byfleet library after the county council axed paid librarian jobs at the branch.
Byfleet library is now run by volunteers.
The library in High Road has changed its opening hours.
But the exact number of helpers who have been running the library in High Road since Saturday (September 22), when it re-launched as a community partnered library (CPL), is being disputed.
The library, the first to open under Surrey County Council's controversial CPL programme. has extended opening days from three to five days a week.
It is closed Mondays and Thursdays, open from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, 10am to 4pm on Tuesdays, 6pm to 8pm on Wednesdays, 10am to 4pm on Fridays and from 9.30am to 3pm on Saturday.
Byfleet volunteer Beryl Marlow said: "We're pleased to be open and get started. We have 50 people volunteering and they are on a rota every other week.
"We've got teachers, a former librarian, office workers and retired people, all sorts and we're always looking for more volunteers.
"People really just wanted to get going. We're elated at the moment and pleased to be up and running. We need the support of our community, so please come along and use the library to help us make it a success."
But Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) believes the council has overestimated the number of volunteers it has available to run the library.
Lee Godfrey of SLAM said: "A large number of SLAM members live in Byfleet and a number of them volunteer in the library so we get very good information from Byfleet CPL. I think they are overclaiming for publicity's sake but even 50 volunteers is short of what would be considered sustainable.
"Byfleet has between 24 and 40 (reports vary between these numbers) volunteers available to work in the library.
"Voluntary Action Elmbridge (www.vae.org.uk) has calculated that a CPL would need a minimum of 70 volunteers consistently available for a CPL to be sustainable."
Byfleet is the first of 10 branches in Surrey to become a CPL. Branches in Bagshot, Bramley, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams and Virginia Water will follow.
The library plans were previously delayed while a judicial review into the CPL policy took place. This led to the council reconsidering the policy last summer, but councillors decided it should go ahead.
Mr Godfrey added: "We worry about the sustainability of the CPL model and sincerely hope that Surrey County Council will provide paid staff should any of the CPLs falter in the future.
"These local libraries are far too valuable a resource to the local communities to let them close. We wish Byfleet CPL every success and good luck in the their brave endeavour."
Helyn Clack, SCC cabinet member for Community Services, said: "By extending opening to five days a week, Byfleet is already experiencing the benefits of becoming a community partnered library. I'm certain the volunteers will unleash its full potential by tailoring the branch to meet local needs and increase the services it provides.
"The 10 libraries becoming community partnerships account for just six per cent of all library use and have limited opening hours. We didn't want to see them decline which is why we're giving local people the power to help them thrive."