The Friends of Sanderstead Library
The Friends of Sanderstead Library came into being as a result of the threatened closure of Sanderstead Library. It is a fully constituted sub-committee of Sanderstead Residents’ Association, with its own Terms of Reference which were adopted at the May 2022 AGM.
SRA submitted comments to both the library consultations and as a result created a working group to address this issue. We invited a member Richard Pacitii, to join us, and Richard has since agreed to be the first Chair of TFOSL. Richard is the ex CEO of Mind in Croydon and brought a wealth of experience for us to develop the mental well-being aspect of the library.
We collated signatures and had the library listed as an Asset of Community Value in March 2021. Over 100 residents signed the nomination in seven weeks during COVID 19 restrictions which demonstrates the strength of feeling.
We have had numerous meetings to consolidate and progress our actions. We have also had several meetings with library council officer.. At these meetings we have aired our thoughts of creating the library as a community hub and providing a café.
We also met with the Warlingham local councillor Simon Morrow and visited the community library to see how they operated the library alongside community provision. They shared with us their Memorandum of Understanding.
We invited the library volunteer co-ordinator from Warlingham library to one of our engagement sessions to see what positive lessons could be learnt in terms of drawing the community together to support an asset such as Sanderstead library.
A number of outside organisations have expressed an interest in helping us with our vision:
We also negotiated with Bosch to give us equipment to maintain the grounds for publicity due to the shortage of green space staff and Waitrose to provide bulbs for planting in the beds.
TFOSL have actively been helping to maintain the library grounds and have been in talks with council officers about maintenance issues regarding the fabric of the building. Some of this has been actioned with emergency work to ensure the wall was secured and repainting of the yellow edging on the steps and cleaning of the gutters and prevention of water ingress.
We have developed and managed the wild flower garden and erected posts and signs to support and inform residents of our project.
We have produced new library signs and banners to announce its reopening and change of dates.
We have taken out insurance for £5m so that we could undertake further work to improve the building such as varnishing the library doors and decorating and improving the downstairs area of the library rooms.
Only last week we supplied a bench and table under the mature tree so that the book club could enjoy a cool place to read.
Our asks have been small – for a key to progress some of this work and access to water so the WI who maintain the rose garden can assist further with planting.
In return that the room could be used for our meetings and councillors meetings who work very closely alongside our work whilst planning further works.
Croydon Libraries LIBRARY PLAN 2019-2028. The key objectives of the plan are:
- Inform communities with books and services that meet their needs;
- Involve our communities through volunteering opportunities
- Inspire people through the information and opportunities available to them
- increase the usage of our libraries and resources;
- Attract more young people and those of working age, who traditionally, are less likely to use libraries.
This plan is an agreed policy which needs to be implemented and we are keen to drive our ambition to support the community here in Sanderstead by proactively developing the plan for all residents who would want to use the facilities of an extended provision at the library whilst working alongside the professional library service.
Our vision supports the Library Plan as a centre for well-being, learning and combatting isolation based around the library facility designed to meet the needs of the local community.
We believe the site offers a lot of potential for this.
A number of residents have come forward to the SRA to offer their assistance and we feel this aligns with the ten year library plan which was a bold an imaginative plan to make the best use of its libraries by extending use for community benefit.
We would welcome further discussion to see how this could be progressed.