Library hours cut due to lack of volunteers

First published in News by

A FLAGSHIP community library has had to reduce its opening hours due to a lack of volunteers.

Walcot Charity Shop and Library, in Sussex Square, is now closed on Saturday mornings.

The library and shop, which is entirely run by volunteers, was set up in April 2009 after the library was threatened with closure.

Councillors Peter Mallinson and Nick Martin backed a project to combine the shop with the library in one building. The venture ploughs all the cash it raised back into the community and regularly makes grants to local groups.

Initially the library opened every morning apart from Wednesday and Sunday, but now it has been decided to stop the Saturday opening too.

This week the doors were also closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Coun Mallinson, who is also chairman of the Walcot Community Charity Shop and Library charity, said he took the decision to stop opening on Saturdays to relieve the volunteers.

He said: “I just felt it wasn’t fair on my volunteers.

“I’m not prepared to work them to the point where we start to lose them.

“We are without doubt the only charity shop in Swindon that does not pay any members of staff. If we had a bigger pool of volunteers we could open for more hours or more days, but the reality is we have a set number of people who are our core of volunteers.”

A recent petition submitted to the council by Libraries campaigner Shirley Burnham urged the council not to touch the libraries during its budget cuts and also criticised the replacement of librarians with unpaid volunteers.

She said: “Libraries function much better when paid staff are there for the core hours at least.

“It seems to me the council is on rather shaky ground by using Walcot as an example of the desired way to go, but then again they haven’t given the figures as to how Walcot is performing and how successful it is.

“A library without staff is just a room full of second hand books.”

But Coun Mallinson said the volunteers at Walcot Library felt hurt and unappreciated because of the petition.

Coun Fionuala Foley, cabinet member for libraries, has insisted that no libraries will close as part of the budget cuts. She said: “My vision for libraries going forward is that there will always be a core number of hours modelled on Old Town library where staff are present and then supported by volunteers there to help people.”

Anyone interested in helping out at Walcot Charity Shop and Library should contact Coun Mallinson on 01793 639076 or 07554 000 590.

Comments (6)

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10:06pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Grimwald says...

So this is a success is it? What has happened to the volunteers and how does the council hope to engage other Library volunteers if they cannot maintain this one? I cannot understand why volunteers would feel slighted by Shirley Burnham's petition because for the lack of them her postition has been vindicated.
Does councillor Foley intend to re instate librarians to Walcot to support volunteers just like in Old Town?
So this is a success is it? What has happened to the volunteers and how does the council hope to engage other Library volunteers if they cannot maintain this one? I cannot understand why volunteers would feel slighted by Shirley Burnham's petition because for the lack of them her postition has been vindicated. Does councillor Foley intend to re instate librarians to Walcot to support volunteers just like in Old Town? Grimwald
  • Score: 0

11:18am Fri 1 Oct 10

KM1981 says...

And so it begins. The council won't pay staff so they have volunteers, now they say that it's unfair to the volunteers to work on Saturday mornings?! I bet the volunteers don't mind if it keeps the library open.

I used to be a library assistant about 5 years ago and even then they were angling to make cuts and push out the staff who actually cared about the people and not figures. It won't be long before all the small libraries are closed down for good.
And so it begins. The council won't pay staff so they have volunteers, now they say that it's unfair to the volunteers to work on Saturday mornings?! I bet the volunteers don't mind if it keeps the library open. I used to be a library assistant about 5 years ago and even then they were angling to make cuts and push out the staff who actually cared about the people and not figures. It won't be long before all the small libraries are closed down for good. KM1981
  • Score: 0

3:17pm Fri 1 Oct 10

Healthylady says...

I should have thought that Saturday was the most important day to be open as many people are not at work and the children are not a school. There will not be enough volunteers around to do all the tasks the government and council want. So much for the big society - let proffessionals do the job properly
I should have thought that Saturday was the most important day to be open as many people are not at work and the children are not a school. There will not be enough volunteers around to do all the tasks the government and council want. So much for the big society - let proffessionals do the job properly Healthylady
  • Score: 0

6:46pm Fri 1 Oct 10

Blackmalkin says...

There goes Cameron's Big Society, eh?
There goes Cameron's Big Society, eh? Blackmalkin
  • Score: 0

8:13pm Fri 1 Oct 10

Peter Mallinson says...

Nobody at the library cares what you think Grimwald just so long as you dont try to come back. And whilst you are at it why not use your real name instead of hiding, we all know who you are.

As an aside, Saturday has always been a low uptake day.

Thanks to the article in the press today three people have volunteered to help. It is a pity that the people posting on this subject could not do the same (not Grimwald)
Nobody at the library cares what you think Grimwald just so long as you dont try to come back. And whilst you are at it why not use your real name instead of hiding, we all know who you are. As an aside, Saturday has always been a low uptake day. Thanks to the article in the press today three people have volunteered to help. It is a pity that the people posting on this subject could not do the same (not Grimwald) Peter Mallinson
  • Score: 0

9:45pm Fri 1 Oct 10

Grimwald says...

Councillor Mallinson it is very interesting to see that you have me confused with another Councillor and unlike lots of Councillors who chose to hide on forums as undoubted you have done in the past I am just a member of the public who is entitled to their privcacy. It is always the same that middle aged men dominate the chamber and you trying to bully me out is typical of the behaviour of this controlling group. It does worry me that you as a powerful Conservative Councillor and cabinet member can make comments of this nature on ordinary posters and if you are that determined to find out my identity I shudder to think to what lenghts you will go to. I can assure that posters on this site will not be intimidated by you.
Councillor Mallinson it is very interesting to see that you have me confused with another Councillor and unlike lots of Councillors who chose to hide on forums as undoubted you have done in the past I am just a member of the public who is entitled to their privcacy. It is always the same that middle aged men dominate the chamber and you trying to bully me out is typical of the behaviour of this controlling group. It does worry me that you as a powerful Conservative Councillor and cabinet member can make comments of this nature on ordinary posters and if you are that determined to find out my identity I shudder to think to what lenghts you will go to. I can assure that posters on this site will not be intimidated by you. Grimwald
  • Score: 0

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