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Devon Libraries' Friends' Groups' Newsletter

posted 27 Nov 2018, 03:14 by Angie Cheshire   [ updated 27 Nov 2018, 03:14 ]

Hello all,
It's been a busy few months for Devon and Torbay's libraries. I have enjoyed seeing many of you at the Libraries Unlimited AGM, the autumn regional meetings and on visits to Totnes, Newton Abbot, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Lynton and Kingsteignton Friends Groups.  

In this newsletter we will answer some of the questions that came up at regional meetings. Thanks to everyone who has sent me your latest news - it's great to receive your updates so please keep sending them in. Please also remember to forward this newsletter to other members of your Friends Group too. 

We are currently planning the newsletters for next year and, in response to your feedback, will be increasing the frequency to ensure you're kept up to date. Deadlines for submissions will be as follows:
 January 30th, April 30th, July 30th, October 30th 2019.

Finally, I'd like to thank you for all of the work you have done this year to support your local library. We look forward to working with you in 2019.

Rachel Gee - Service Development Manager 

An invitation to meet our Chair...

We would like to invite the Chair of each Friends Group (or a representative) to join us with their library supervisor to meet the new Chair of Libraries Unlimited, Professor William Harvey.  
Please join us and the Board of trustees at Exeter Library on Friday 14th December,10.30-11.30am for mince pies and coffee. This will be an informal gathering, giving you the opportunity to chat to Friends from other groups, trustees and library staff from across Devon and Torbay. Please click here to RSVP by 7th December if you are able to attend
Support for Friends

On the website

We would like to link to all Friends Groups' websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts from the Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries websites. This will help us to promote your groups and encourage more people to get involved - thanks to Torrington Friends for the suggestion.  To help us achieve this, please email Volunteer Development Officer Shona Keen with the relevant links to your pages:


Please make sure you share this newsletter with your fellow Friends Groups members. We would also like to encourage more Friends to sign up to receive the newsletter directly. 
Click here to open the newsletter sign up page.


Don’t forget to join our Friends of Libraries Unlimited Facebook group.  This group was set up to enable you to communicate and connect with other Friends Groups from across Devon and Torbay.  It is a closed group which means that only members can read what you post. Join us and share ideas, news and updates from across the county!
Click here to join.  

Events speakers

Salcombe Friends have asked for a list of event speakers. This isn't something we currently have, but we're happy to put one together to share with Friends Groups.  Please send us any recommendations for people you have booked, plus details on how much they cost.
Click here to send to Rachel Gee.  

Training opportunities

We want to help your Friends Group grow and thrive and would like to know if you have identified any skills that need developing or refreshing within your group.
If you or one of your members would like to learn about the role of a treasurer; how to be a more effective Chair; how to market your group to grow membership and event attendance; top tips for applying for funding; or if you have identified training needs that will enhance your Friends Group, please get in touch with Shona Keen.
Shona will search for training opportunities across Devon and Torbay and report back to the Friends Group network. Please send your suggestions and requests to Shona before 05/01/19.
The life of a community trustee

I've been a community trustee of Libraries Unlimited for around 20 months now.  There are two places on the Board for trustees elected by Friends Groups and we serve a term of two years.   The Board, responsible for the overall strategic direction of the organisation, meets five times a year and each trustee is on one or two committees which also meet approximately four times a year. I've been on the finance and audit committee which has been a steep learning curve but very interesting. 

As I am coming to the end of my term, there will be an election for a community trustee sometime in the first few months of 2019.  It's been a fascinating and stimulating period.   As community trustees we are not mandated by Friends Groups:  we are representatives from Friends Groups rather than of Friends Groups.  We bring our own ideas and judgement to the work of the Board and committees.  Nevertheless, we can bring to the discussions our knowledge and understanding of Friends Groups and I believe this is welcomed and valued by Libraries Unlimited.

We also have the opportunity to visit libraries from across Devon and Torbay, and to meet staff and fellow Friends Groups.  I have visited libraries in the middle of Dartmoor, in bigger towns, on the south and north coasts and many points in between. Many of them play a key role in their community and it has been really interesting to see and understand their role.   Some libraries are still developing and strengthening their role as a community resource and in this they are often strongly supported by their Friends Groups, particularly where there is active collaboration.  The most positive and welcoming libraries appear to be the ones where there is a strong and trusting working relationship between Friends Groups, staff and other community organisations.

I would urge any Friends Group members who would like to see how their local library fits into the bigger picture and to contribute to the vision for the future for Devon and Torbay libraries to consider standing for this role.   You will find it sometimes challenging, but never boring and often very enjoyable. 

Sue SimmonsCommunity Trustee and Secretary of Bovey Library Action Support Team.

Libraries Unlimited - useful information

Being a member

In the regional meetings it was noted that Friends Groups needed more information on what it means to be members of Libraries Unlimited. Click here to see a factsheet on membership responsibilities. If you are unsure if your group is a member please contact Rachel Gee.
See the factsheet here>>>

Who's who

In response to your feedback, we've put together a list of names and job titles to help you get to know who's who within the Leadership Team of Libraries Unlimited.
See the list here>>> (This document is correct as of November 2018)
You can also find out more about our Board of trustees here>>>
News from you


Friends of Brixham Library (FOBL) have received an award from the Royal Horticultural Society and South West in Bloom for the floral displays outside the library.

The level 4 award is an amazing response to their efforts (level 5 being the highest). Well done to all who worked so hard on the flower beds. Pictured is FOBL Chair Alasdair Anderson and committee member Marian Parker.


On Saturday 8th September Ashburton held its annual Food and Drink Festival, in St. Lawrence Lane just outside the Library and Post Office. Librarian, Ros Parkes, sourced a wide range of cookery books and organised a pop-up library stall which was staffed through the day by the Friends of Ashburton Library (FOAL) and volunteers. It was a good way to get the library message out onto the street (literally) and a good example of everyone working together.


Appledore Friends (FOAL) have recently funded a film license for the library events room - the plan is for all adult members of the library to be in the Film Club with regular film shows dedicated to a type of film such as Science Fiction, Musicals or Classic Oldies. The Library Christmas Party is scheduled for Friday 7th December, 4.30-7pm. Friends will be serving mince pies and mulled wine upstairs whilst the library will be open in the evening and offering hot chocolate and cookies.  There will be short films, a visit from the Mayor and perhaps even Santa Claus!  In previous years the party has attracted hundreds of people to the library.

Combe Martin

Combe Martin Friends supported the Summer Reading Challenge finishers party, and Secretary Chris even wore a Dennis the Menace jumper! She said “We had loads of children attend with their parents and it was certainly very noisy as everyone was having a great time! 

"Dave Hendy was our balloon modelling guru, I was on badge making, and Barbara was on goody bag design. Once decorated the goody bags were filled with a book of the child’s choice, small games & puzzles, sweets & a beano character topped cake, all funded by the Friends Group”.


On Saturday 6th October Princetown Library joined libraries across Devon and other community groups around the world to take part in the Fun Palaces Weekend. 

The Friends of Princetown Library supported Customer Service Assistant Heather and opened the library for an afternoon of fun, welcoming over 20 people who took part in a range of craft activities including embroidery, making friendship bracelets, slate painting and flower arranging. Heather said: “As a small library in an isolated village location we really didn't know whether the Fun Palace concept would work but were pleasantly surprised with the turnout. We will definitely be building on this success for next years event".


During 2018 Kingskerswell Library was nominated to benefit from the Co-Op Local Community Fund and as part of this volunteers from the Friends of Kingskerswell Library visited two local Co-Ops to promote our Library and ran a word search competition open to all ages.

The winner of the competition is pictured with Mrs Gillian Wright, Chair of the Friends (right) and Kingskerswell Library Assistant Barbara. During the year the Friends have kept a book case at Shiphay Co-Op stocked with donated books to buy. Kingskerswell's year will shortly be coming to an end and funds received to date have provided a digital display for the library promoting village and library activities.


We are small in number but we keep busy in order to help our Library with events and fundraising. Our main aim at present is to help with the purchase of a cover for the outside area attached to The Hayridge Café.

This cover will enable customers to sit outside in the patioed area in all seasons. So far we have been able to raise and ringfence £1750 and we have also put in for grants towards this.


The Friends of Salcombe Library have had a busy few months, with highlights being speakers Karen Wolstenholme who gave a riveting account of her life in the Diplomatic Service, and Vice Admiral Sir Jonathon Todd who talked about his distinguished career in the Navy. In August they ran a popular second-hand book stall on Whitestrand during the Salcombe Town Regatta giving them the opportunity to chat with interested visitors and residents about the library and the work of the Friends.


The Friends of Colyton Library (FoCL) hosted another successful Cream Tea Quiz on 4th November with 52 people taking part and raising £260. FoCL encouraged 5 people to join taking membership to 82.  In October FoCL achieved their target of raising £5,000 to install money-saving solar panels on the library roof. Chair Jane Dauncey, said: “We had some generous grants from East Devon District Council’s Community Buildings’ fund, County Councillor Martin Shaw’s locality fund and the Colyton Chamber of Feoffees. The remainder was raised by the generosity of the Colyton community and we give heartfelt thanks to them all."


Uffculme Library Friends organised a coffee morning on 13 October, to mark Libraries Week. The coffee morning was held in Square Corner, a community meeting place in the centre of Uffculme – our library is unfortunately too small to host any meetings or events.

The coffee morning was popular, with a good turnout and a chance to raise the profile of the library and library services. As always in Uffculme, the raffle was particularly well patronised, and we are grateful for donations from local businesses. We were pleased to raise (almost!) £100 net for the library.

Ottery St Mary

On July 12th Ann Widdecombe visited Ottery St Mary to talk to the Friends (FOOL) about her life and writing. Due to the size of the audience her talk took place in The Institute, where over 100 people came.  The afternoon was a most entertaining, amusing and in some cases, a touching experience as she talked about everything from politics to Strictly and a recent TV documentary on the NHS. Library Supervisor Xanthe Waite presented Ann with a bouquet of flowers, and after a book signing she donated the profits from the afternoon to FOOL and Ottery St Mary Library. 


The Friends of Churston Library contribute to the funding of many Library activities, mainly by organising day trips for Members and non-Members. In the last 12 months we have been to St.Ives, Bath, Salisbury, Truro, Rosemoor and Wells raising over £570.

Friends have contributed prizes for competitions, purchased Lego and provided books allowing every child under 5 to receive one as a gift when they get their first Library card.


Tessa from the Friends of Ilfracombe Library says: “We have had two very successful and lucrative Quiz evenings at our local pub in Ilfracombe, the last one raising a total of £210. These evenings are always enjoyable and well worth doing. Several of our group were at a successful Fun Palace, helping with and participating in the activities. We are hoping to support the library in presenting the pantomime Sleeping Beauty in December after the success of The Little Match Girl last year and combine it this year with a Christmas Hamper raffle.”


The Friends of Dawlish Library have organised a programme of speakers and events for the coming months. On 20th November, 7.30pm Sonya Marshall, professional artist, will give an illustrated talk.  On 24 January you can join them at 7pm for a Grand General Knowledge Quiz. Derek Gore will give a talk on Dawlish before Domesday on 12th February 7.30pm, and on Friday 8th March, 7.30 pm Matt Norman, a nationally known musician will present The Mandolin: a demonstration and recital. Contact Dawlish Library for more information.  


On September 17th, Graham Hurley entertained Friends of Seaton Library with a lively talk on his life as a crime fiction writer and had his audience spell-bound and much amused at times. A chance to mingle with him over tea was much enjoyed by his small but hugely appreciative audience. We thoroughly recommend him as a great speaker!
Elizabeth Parker - Chair of FOSL.

We want to hear from you. Click here to send us your news

Friends Group top tips!

Fundraising ideas: check out organisations such as Aviva, Co-Op and Asda who regularly announce new community funds and grants.
  • Asda - Visit your branch to nominate your group
  • Waitrose - visit your branch to fill in a nomination form
  • Tesco - Tesco Bags of Help scheme.
  • Wilko - Wilko Helping Hands
  • Costcutter and Mace.  Could your local corner shop be supporting you?