Category Archives: Libraries

Woodbridge Library reading stars

So our libraries are no longer important, no longer relevant, to our modern lifestyle?

Tell that to all the children who turned up at Woodbridge library today to receive their certificate and medal for finishing this summer’s Circus Stars Reading Challenge.   And there were  lots of them.

The popular library summer reading game was open to children of all ages across Suffolk . It asked them to read and report on five books over the summer holidays.   As ever, it relied hugely on the support teams of local volunteers who listened to the children reading and discussed the books with them afterwards. Twenty of these kind and dedicated people gave their services at our library over this summer.

And this year  (the year when all but 8 of Suffolk’s libraries were threatened with closure)  the library staff at Woodbridge told me that  more children had enrolled on – and finished – the challenge than ever before. In fact,  I nearly lost my voice  when presenting the certificates – I had so many names to read out .

Jonathan Allen draws Baby Owl for Woodbridge Reading Challenge Circus Stars

Today we had a special treat, as I was able to use my Locality Budget to fund children’s writer/illustrator Jonathan Allen  to come to the event.  Between the two ceremonies  he told us about how he creates his books, and ran a cartooning  class with all the  award winners.

Jonathan – who comes from outside Suffolk  – told me that he was ‘amazed’  not only that our library was open at a time when everyone could use it, but also that so many people  were prepared to come and celebrate and support  children’s reading so early on a Sunday morning!

We should be proud of ourselves.

If you’ve forgotten to visit your library recently, why not come along and remind yourself of the excitement and discovery that you once felt, and which you will see on the rapt faces of all the people of all ages you will find reading there!

Let’s never forget  that a library is a wonderful institution. It’s wonderful not only because it gives us a doorway into a world full of millions of books of all kinds, written by people from all places and all times. It is also wonderful because it allows us to hold open the door to that world for the next generation.

September’s report to Woodbridge Town Council

This month my report is principally to do with bus passes and  libraries. SCC’s county-wide consultation on further cuts is also covered

Interim Chief Executive
Lucy Robinson, Director for Economy, Skills and Environment has been appointed interim chief executive at Suffolk County Council. She had been covering the role of Chief Executive since the previous Chief Executive was put on “gardening leave”. The role is initially for six months, during which time the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive will take place.  Mrs Robinson has been appointed on a salary of £150,000 pro rata which is apparently the kind of figure Suffolk might expect to be paying for our new Chief Executive’s salary.

 Concessionary Travel: Explore, over-60 and disabled persons passes
After the success of the recent petition, the Explore card cut (together with other obstacles to young persons travel  is currently being investigated by a SCC scrutiny task and finish group. I am a member of this three-person group, and urge anyone who wishes  to give evidence to do so. The committee is taking evidence till half term; the contact is Teresa Harden at SCC.

At  the last Full Council meeting the Liberal Democrat Group submitted a motion recommending that concessionary bus pass holders should be allowed to travel from 9am instead of 9:30am whilethose who hold concessionary bus passes due to a disability should have all time restrictions removed. The motion was passed with a single amendment , so this decision will be now referred to Cabinet.  In the meantime I have set up a petition to highlight  public support.  You can find the epetition on the SCC epetition website—we-need-to-travel-before-9-30- , while a paper  version of the petition can be downloaded from:

Libraries update

Future: the administration has put forward a number of different options for the future structure of the service, and the options below will go through a ‘best value’ evaluation. I asked  for the parameters of ‘best value’ to be made very explicit;

  • A Council Business Unit
  • A Council owned company/enterprise
  • Independent Company/Enterprise

This will be reported back to Cabinet on the 8th of November. The Council has also moved to set up pilots for community run libraries at:

  • Aldeburgh
  • Bungay
  • Eye, Debenham and Stradbroke
  • Sudbury
  • Thurston
  • Wickham Market
  • Gainsborough, Chantry, Ipswich, Stoke, Rosehill and Westbourne – working together.

These projects will begin in April 2012, and will look to increase the amount of local decision making, fundraising and activities and look to include more public services under one roof.

Local news: I am funding the children’s writer and illustrator Jonathan Allen to come and cartoon at the Woodbridge Library on Sunday – the day of the Reading Scheme presentation awards.

Mobile libraries: theres  a consultation  running until 14 October on plans to move from fortnightly to monthly or four-weekly stops and  to remove all stops in communities that are served by a static library. We are told this would would save an estimated £225,000 a year, while maintaining the mobile library service to those communities that do not have a static library.

SCC Consultation  on further budget cuts 
As suggested by the Lib Dems last October,  SCC has decided to undertake a major budget consultation exercise with Suffolk residents, businesses, partners, the voluntary sector and other stakeholders. The idea is to get  people to tell us which  services matter most to them and to share their ideas and suggestions on how the Council could save money or improve services.  I urge everyone to make their opinions known. This is the only democratic way to arrive at necessary cuts

Public Questions at Full Council & Cabinet
As usual members of the public can ask questions to the administration at both Full Council and at Cabinet. Your question must be submitted by 12 midday, four days prior to the meeting.  This means that questions to Full Council, which takes place on the 22nd of September, have to be submitted by the 16th

Locality budget
I am wanting to  fund  more bike racks in the Market Square, outside the Community Hall, and down by Cafe Nero. Hoefully this will encourage greater bike use – essential in a town where parking is so short

Woodbridge Library Reading Challenge awards

On the morning of Sunday 18th September all the young Circus Star readers who have managed to complete this year’s Reading Challenge will be turning up at Woodbridge Library to get their medals and certificates.

And this year they are particularly lucky, because the well-known children’s author Jonathan Allen (I’m NOT cute, Wolf Academy and many others) is coming to meet them and show them a bit about how he works .

Click  for the poster with full details – and one of Jonathan’s pictures which he has drawn  specially for this event:  carolinelibrarycircus

Why not come along, and see for yourself how many young people have been enthused by this excellent scheme,  by all the volunteers who help run it?