Spondon Library, a much loved local resource, has undergone a transformation in the last year or so but what hasn’t changed is the community spirit.
Just to the left of the library entrance is a war memorial that reads, ‘In memory of the men of Spondon who died in the two World Wars. We will remember them.’ Below the memorial, flowers and wreaths of poppies are placed to show remembrance, and either side of these are tiny crosses. To the left of the library is the village hall. It is quite clear that these three things are the heart of Spondon.
As soon as you enter the library, you are greeted with a smile and hello from a volunteer. The counter and self-checkout are immediately in front of you, to the right is the children’s area, and to the left is the rest of the library. At one of the circular tables within the centre of the bookshelves, you might find Hilary from Direct Help & Advice (DHA).
Hilary, once a volunteer herself, spends a lot of time at Spondon Library, providing the volunteers with her support. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on the place: ‘The library looks much better now that it’s been repainted. The yellow and green really has improved the look of it.’ When asked about what the future holds for the library, she said, ‘Hopefully, there will be an increase in footfall and more services will be offered. After all, the library is more than just a place to borrow books.’
Vicki, who has been a library member for over 55 years, feels that the library has made her so much more a part of the Spondon community, something that makes her feel very proud. Vicki also believes the benefits of having a library in the community means that ‘you have a central hub for local people – information that can come not just in written format but via IT too.’
Another volunteer, Katheryn, began volunteering at Spondon Library last September because of her lifelong love of books, as well as wanting to improve her social and IT skills. In fact, she is currently taking part in Learn My Way, a free service offered by The Good Things Foundation that aims to help people develop basic IT skills. ‘Learn My Way is proving to be very successful,’ she said. ‘We have 5 people who come in every Tuesday to see our Digital Champion.’ Speaking about the improvements that could be made at the library, Katheryn said, ‘We want to see more children in here. Libraries are needed for literacy reasons, and sometimes I worry that literacy skills might be dipping slightly. I would also like us to interact more with schools.’
But what do volunteers like Vicki and Katheryn do when at the library? The role involves much more than just tidying bookshelves and replenishing stock. The volunteers signpost the public to local services or provide them with the information they need. And the library volunteers are always trying to increase footfall, as they understand how important a library is to a community. At times, they must go beyond what is expected of them. On one occasion, Vicki had to take care of a gentleman suffering from dementia until his son arrived to collect him. This is the kind of dedication the library volunteers have to their role and to serving the community.
Spondon Library is a warm and friendly place - the work Katheryn and Vicki do, as well as the other library volunteers and DHA, show that the Community Managed Libraries project has a strong future and a large role to play within the community.
If you happen to be in Spondon, visit the library and see for yourself what a nice place it is. As Vicki put it, ‘Spondon Library is ideally placed on the main shopping street, right by a bus stop, and also has plenty of free parking. Disabled access is good and we have a loo that the public can use too! What’s not to like?!’