St Just Library Users Speak Up
St Just Library users speak up when invited to a public meeting by St Just Town Council on Tuesday. Some were surprised that with a weeks notice, in the run up to Christmas and on a bleak evening so many people filled the hall of Cape Cornwall School. Having been engaging with Library Users for the last 3 – 4 years, I was not surprised at all and nothing I heard was a great surprise either.
My assessment of comments, questions and reactions is set out here BUT I would like people to email me if they think I have interpreted the mood of the meeting wrongly. People can also email me, if unable to attend the meeting if they have different views or want clarification on any point.
Top 10 Priorities (in a sort of order, as judged by me)
- Maintain a Library Service in St Just of comparable standard to today’s provision.
- Use volunteers/ technology to increase opening hours. More days for children to visit after school was mentioned.
- At least some professional paid librarian hours, preferably retain existing hours.
- Desire for multi-options to be assessed and costed and brought back to a public meeting in a few months.
- Willingness to pay more council tax to Town Council to maintain a suitable service.
- Preference to keep the Library, with Tourist Information, in the existing building due to convenient location by car park, doctors surgery and bus stop.
- Preference for Town Council to share the Library building in order to free up the current Town Council offices for sale. Sale of building in order to produce savings for Cornwall Council (who own and maintain the building) and produce some capital funding for adapting a building or buildings to meet the Town Council and Library services space needs. View this gave potential to develop the centre as a community hub.
- Going to Cape Cornwall School not ruled out if it is that option or no Library Service in the Town but some perceived problems would need sorting out.
- Reduced space for books acceptable, particularly in the short term.
- Consideration be given to community spaces available elsewhere in the Town to make maintaining a Library Service, meeting the Town Council’s future office requirements and running a Tourist Information Centre possible whilst allowing the current Town Council building to be sold.
Top 10 Worries Expressed (not really in a priority order)
- Lack of parking/ current pressure on resident parking near the school were the library to move there.
- Lack of toilet access at the Library area of Cape Cornwall School, given that the public could not have free access to the wider school building, where the toilets are located. (After the meeting I reflected that this would have to be resolved if this becomes the solution as many service users are older and bladders are not so robust!)
- People from outside the Town of St Just use the Library and some use public transport but might not be able to walk from the bus stop to school.
- If no paid Library staff then some of what is the essential library service will be lost. Strong feeling that professional librarian is an integral part of Library offering.
- That Library users might not be fully involved in decision making about the future of the Library although from the meeting people appreciated that this was part of wider discussions between Cornwall Council and St Just Town Council and some of the other assets and services are equally important to the people of St Just and Pendeen.
- Whether those agreeing to volunteer would all be willing to do so at the school as well as in the current building.
- Whether Safeguarding issues could cause some people to have restricted access to the Library, if moved to the school or whether the school could satisfy OFSTED’s rigorous Safeguarding requirements with a public library in its building.
- Insufficient attention given to making grant applications to achieve aspirations and the focus was on saving money.
- School option would likely restrict any community hub ambitions as to meet the school’s needs it would possibly need to focus on being a good library only.
- Loss of combined Library and Tourist Information Service, perceived as complementary to each other, if services located in different buildings.