Category Archives: Libraries

Bloxwich Library saved amid drastic Council cuts

Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

Walsall Council has announced that Bloxwich Library is one of six libraries to have been saved from possible closure in a dramatic press briefing reported on by local news media today.

But the news is by no means all good, as hundreds of jobs are still set to be axed and nine libraries (at Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pelsall, Pleck, Pheasey, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood) will shut under budget proposals announced by the local authority.

Council tax will also rise by 4.99%, as the local Labour-Lib Dem coalition is pressured by massive budget cuts enforced by national government.

The New Art Gallery at Walsall, which was potentially under the threat of eventual closure, also seems set to be secured as the council looks to develop a new business model for it, and according to various reports Wolverhampton University has shown an interest in partnership working.

According to the BBC, a £3.5m funding bid to Arts Council England and other stakeholders has been submitted to develop a new business model for the New Art Gallery. The council has apparently mooted selling off naming rights to the gallery, but Council leader Sean Coughlan has insisted it would not be “the McDonald’s Art Gallery”.

Walsall Leather Museum is also expected to remain where it is, but Walsall Local History Centre will be moved from Essex Street into the Walsall Central Library building, requiring external document storage elsewhere. Detailed plans have not yet been announced.

Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) Pic Stuart WIlliams
Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) Pic Stuart WIlliams

Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall libraries have all been saved, while Streetly library will be community run.

Walsall Council, which late last year engaged in a public consultation about the drastic “savings’ it had identified must be made, has said it must save £86m by 2020.

281 jobs are set to go, either through voluntary or compulsory redundancy, another 139 vacant posts will be not be filled. Meanwhile, remaining Walsall Council staff will face another year-long pay freeze.

Cllr Coughlan is reported by the BBC website to have said that libraries faced “one of the most profound and stark cuts”.

“Every political side knew we had to do something about libraries and that’s what we have had to do,” he said.

“We have faced the biggest cuts this council’s ever had before.”

Council tax for Band D properties will rise to £1,744.04, including precepts – subject to confirmation of final precepts – up from £1663.29. Originally the rise was to be 3.99 per cent but now central government, which had massively cut the grant to Walsall Council in the first place,  has allowed the council to raise their tax by an extra one per cent provided it is ring fenced for social care.

According to the Express & Star, the Forest Arts Centre will not be cut in 2017/18 and the council will also to continue to maintain cricket pitches and bowling greens in the borough – something it originally proposed to scrap.  Plans to stop cleaning markets after they have closed has also been scrapped, while seven front line posts connected to street cleaning are being reinstated.

All these proposals and many more will have to be approved at a full council meeting in February.

READ MORE from the Express & Star via this link and also on the BBC website here.

Have your say on possible closure of Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Walsall Council is seriously considering, amongst other options, closing all of the Borough’s branch libraries, including Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) in Elmore Row.   This is due to the swingeing and cruel national government budget cuts being inflicted on the borough.

Amongst the many other possible ‘culture cuts’ (including massive reductions in funding to the New Art Gallery and major cutbacks involving the potential downsizing and moving of Walsall Leather Museum and Walsall Local History Centre in with the Central Library in Lichfield Street), such a closure would be a huge blow to Bloxwich and district both in cultural and educational terms. Continue reading Have your say on possible closure of Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Bloxwich Councillors bid to save Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Cllrs Allen, Harrison and Follows take a stand outside Bloxwich Library (pic Bloxwich West Intouch)
Cllrs Allen, Harrison and Follows take a stand outside Bloxwich Library (pic Bloxwich West Intouch)

Many Bloxwich people should be well aware by now that, due to the swingeing national government budget cuts being inflicted on many local authorities in England, Walsall Council is seriously considering closing all of the Borough’s branch libraries, including Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) in Elmore Row.

Amongst the many other possible ‘culture cuts’ (including massive reductions in funding to the New Art Gallery and major cutbacks involving the potential downsizing and moving of Walsall Leather Museum and Walsall Local History Centre in with the Central Library in Lichfield Street), such a closure would be a huge blow to Bloxwich and district both in cultural and educational terms. Continue reading Bloxwich Councillors bid to save Bloxwich Library and Theatre

Easter eggcitement in local libraries

Eggcited at Easter! (pic Walsall Council)
Eggcited at Easter! (pic Walsall Council)

For parents hatching a plan to keep their younger family members eggtertained over the Easter holidays, Walsall Libraries will be providing a host of activities throughout the borough. Parents hunting down free activities for their little chicks this Easter have to look no further than their local library for an eggciting selection for all ages.

Amongst the cracking activities are some eggcellent opportunities for arts and crafts as well as storytelling sessions.

For more details, or to book a place, contact your local library or visit their website at http://lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk/

Libraries on our patch

Beechdale
Easter Card Making, Saturday 19th March – 11-12pm
Easter Holiday stories and crafts, Friday 1st April – 10.30-12pm

Blakenall
Crafts & Activities Inspired by David Walliams, Wednesday 30th March – 11-12pm
Garden Bazaar, Springtime stories and crafts, Tuesday 5th April – 10.30-12pm

Bloxwich
Easter crafts family event, Wednesday 30th March – 2-3.30pm
Spring crafts, Wednesday 6th April – 2-3.30pm

And further afield

Aldridge
Window Decoration, Tuesday 29th March – Drop in
Easter Baskets, Wednesday 30th March – Drop in
Easter Eggs Collage, Thursday 31st March – Drop in
Lolly Stick Bookmarks, Wednesday 6th April – Drop in
Spring Time Animal Collage, Friday 8th April – Drop in

Brownhills
Drop-in craft session, 29th March to 2nd April – 10am until 2pm

Central
Easter Craft Session, Wednesday 30th March – 2.15-3.15pm

Darlaston
Easter Craft Paperplate Bonnets   Under 5s, Friday, 18th March – 10-11am
Easter Craft Paperplate Bonnets   Under 5s, Tuesday 22nd March – 2-3pm
Bouncing  Bunny stories and craft suitable for under 8s, Wednesday 30th  March – 2.15 – 3.15pm

Mobile Library Service
Easter cards/design your own Egg, 21st March to 2nd April

New Invention
Easter Fun  activity session, Friday 1st  April – 11-12pm

Pelsall
Stories and craft age 2 to 11, Thursday 31st March – 10.30-12pm

Pheasey

Dogs Trust Storytelling (with surprise guest?????), Tuesday 29th March – 10.30-12pm

Pleck
Colouring competition, 28th March – 9th April
Drop in Easter & Spring crafts, Thursday 3st March and Thursday 7th April – 10-12pm

Rushall
Stories and Chicks in a nest craft 2 to 11, Wednesday 30th March -10.30-12pm

South Walsall
Spring themed story/craft, Thursday 30th March – 2.15-3.15pm

Walsall Wood
Make your own Easter Bonnet, Wednesday 30th March – 2:30- 4pm

Willenhall
Easter activities, Thursday 31st March – 2.30-3.30pm

Library cuts conundrum considered by Council

Beechdale Library is one of those facing the axe
Beechdale Library is one of those facing the axe

Public consultation on Walsall Council’s draft budget proposals to close up to 7 libraries across the borough and cease the Mobile Library service was concluded at the beginning of January. Nearly 2,000 questionnaires were returned and 435 face to face interviews have taken place. Since then the feedback from this consultation has been analysed and evaluated.

The Council’s Cabinet are carefully considering the feedback and the impact of the current proposals on the most vulnerable sections of the population.

Councillor Mike Bird, Leader of the Council stated: “We welcome the way people have come forward to tell us their views on our proposals and we are listening to what they are telling us.

“Cabinet are minded to review the current proposals and amend it to retain a mobile library which will continue to offer a library service to those most in need and to consider how the introduction of new technologies might offer a solution in some areas”

Councillor Harris, Portfolio Holder for Community Leisure and Culture said: “There has been a tremendous amount of work done on this issue and we continue to work with the community in those areas where libraries have been proposed for closure and to minimise the impact.

“It’s the policy of this Council to sustain and maintain the library service and to find a local solution.

“We are still in the process of confirming potential partners in all of the areas affected and we are actively pursuing these negotiations so that local people will still have access to books and learning at a local level.”

Blakenall Library is based in the Blakenall Village Centre (pic BVC)
Blakenall Library is based in the Blakenall Village Centre (pic BVC)

Branch libraries at Beechdale, Blakenall Heath, New Invention, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood could close under the cost-cutting proposals. The axing of the mobile library service and 13 jobs was proposed as part of a bid to save £328,854 this year and £159,058 next year, forced by national government budget cuts.

New technology including self-service machines and a new smart card entry system is also planned at libraries which remain open. Around £300,000 could be invested in some of the remaining nine libraries to bring in a new management system, allowing visitors to use them when they are unstaffed. Customers would be given a special card and PIN to access the libraries when they are unmanned, with CCTV keeping watch and a book detection system used to keep track of items leaving the building.

The home library service which delivers books to residents who are housebound would continue.

Blakenall Library celebrates 10th birthday

Blakenall Library Entrance via Blakenall Village Centre
Blakenall Library Entrance via Blakenall Village Centre

On Wednesday 7th October, Blakenall Village Centre will have been open for 10 years, and as part of celebrations to mark the occasion, staff at Blakenall Library are preparing a series of free activities during the build-up to the big birthday!

Situated inside the Centre in Thames Road, Blakenall Heath, the library will be busy preparing for their anniversary celebrations by offering a range of free activities and competitions, starting with a Bunting & Badge making drop-in session between 9.30am-12.30pm on this Saturday 26th September.

The decorated bunting will form part of a display in the library during a special week of celebration beginning on Monday 5th October.

Blakenall books
This Saturday (tomorrow), there will also be badge making on offer, where children will be able to take their badges away with them. In addition, to tie in with a ‘Great Blakenall Bake Off’, there will be a competition to ‘Pin the cherry on the cake’ which will be judged in the Blakenall Village Centre on that Saturday.

This is all in the lead up to the birthday week, which will host a Barcode Lottery, a quiz for adults, a treasure hunt for children as well as design and name a mascot for Blakenall Village Centre.

Early Years Corner at Blakenall Library
Early Years Corner at Blakenall Library

Blakenall Library is free to join and has regular activities which include an Adult Reading Group, a Cradle Club and a brand new Chatterbooks Reading Group for children which will be launched on Wednesday 7 October.

Please contact the library for further details. Telephone 01922 714967 or email blakenalllibrary@walsall.gov.uk

See also the library’s web page: Blakenall Library

Try something new at Walsall Libraries

Computer course

Walsall Libraries have just launched their new programme of computer taster courses for the whole academic year starting from September 2015 – July 2016.

There are now an extensive range of courses available from lots of individual teaching slots where you can seek help on specific things e.g. if you are unsure of how to create an email, how to buy and sell online, to more structured sessions on Ebay, Family History, CV help and Work Clubs.

In partnership with Walsall College, some libraries will be running 3 week basic taster courses and also a brand new 3 week course covering social media, and using comparison websites.

Helena Denham Information and Learning Co-ordinator said “Walsall Libraries love to offer new learning opportunities for our customers. Libraries are a great place to learn in an informal, relaxing and friendly environment.”

To book your place please visit or telephone your local library, or check out Walsall Libraries’ Adult Zone, then click ‘Learning’ on the website at www.lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk

Tasty computer courses in Walsall Libraries!

Walsall Libraries Adults Zone
Walsall Libraries Adults Zone

Walsall Libraries have just launched their new programme of computer taster courses for the whole academic year starting from September 2015 – July 2016.

There are now an extensive range of courses available from lots of individual teaching slots where you can seek help on specific things e.g. if you are unsure of how to create an email, how to buy and sell online, to more structured sessions on Ebay, Family History, CV help and Work Clubs.

In partnership with Walsall College, some of the libraries will be running 3 week basic taster courses and also a brand new 3 week course covering social media, and using comparison websites.

Helena Denham Information and Learning Co-ordinator said “Walsall Libraries love to offer new learning opportunities for our customers. Libraries are a great place to learn in an informal, relaxing and friendly environment.”

To book your place you can visit or telephone your local library, or check out the Adults Zone, then click ‘Learning’ on the Walsall Libraries  website at www.lovelibrarieswalsall.co.uk

Gruffalo author to visit Bloxwich on national tour

Bloxwich Library

The Children’s Laureate and author of one of the nation’s most popular modern children’s books, ‘The Gruffalo’, will be making a special visit to Bloxwich Library next week as part of her national tour of libraries.

Julia Donaldson will be visiting the library on Wednesday 10 October.  Bloxwich Library has been chosen from hundreds of applications to be one of only twnety-four libraries on the English and Welsh leg of the Children’s Laureate Libraries Tour this autumn.

SCHOOL SESSION

Schoolchildren from St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, Bloxwich Church of England Primary, Elmore Green Primary and Leamore Primary Schools will be attending the invitation-only event, which will see Julia bringing some of her hugely popular stories to life through special dramatisations.

They will also be showing off their own acting and singing skills during a short performance inspired by children’s literature which they will present to Julia.

PUBLIC SESSION

From 4pm until 5pm Julia, along with Waterstones Bookshop staff, will also be available for families from across the borough to come and meet her and purchase signed copies of her books.

Tickets for this event are free and will be issued on a first come first served basis please contact Bookmark Bloxwich, Bloxwich Library on  01922 655900 or e-mail:bloxwichlibrary@walsall.gov.uk to reserve your tickets.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

As part of her Children’s Laureateship, Julia Donaldson – bestselling author of over 150 books including The Gruffalo, What the Ladybird Heard and Zog – is embarking on a tour of libraries that will take in England, Wales and Scotland, from John O’Groats to Lands’ End, over six weeks, commencing on 10 September in Thurso in the Hebrides and finishing on 18 October in Carlisle. The tour will celebrate libraries as a precious community resource at a time when a great many are threatened with closure.

Councillor Anthony Harris, portfolio holder for leisure and culture with Walsall Council Coalition, said: “The Gruffalo is one of the best selling children’s books of all time and the character is adored by children across the country.

“We are absolutely delighted that author Julia Donaldson is coming to Bloxwich and children and parents are getting the chance to meet her,” he added.

Julia Donaldson said: ‘Libraries are very close to my heart, and so is performance. This tour is my way of bringing the two together, by visiting fantastic libraries all over the country, enjoying children acting and singing, and sharing my own stories with them. I want it to be a huge celebration of libraries and of the benefits they offer to communities and especially to children.”

Julia will be joined on the tour by her musical husband Malcolm – who recently retired from his career as a paediatrician – on stage at the events and on the road in the Laureate Libraries Tour van.

The husband and wife duo, who spent their student summers busking in France, will be celebrating their Ruby wedding anniversary whilst on the tour.

To coincide with the launch of her libraries tour, Julia has also launched a new website for teachers www.picturebookplays.co.uk on 10 September to help them to use drama and performance to bring picture books to life in the classroom.

The role of Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. Former Children’s Laureates include Quentin Blake, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen.

Julia Donaldson is the author of over 150 books and plays for children and teenagers, including The Gruffalo (the animation of which was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA), Room on the Broom, Stick Man, Cave Baby, Freddie and the Fairy and What the Ladybird Heard – some of the UK’s best-selling picture books – and the award-winning teenage novel Running on the Cracks. In 2010, Donaldson was the most borrowed children’s author from UK libraries. Her latest books Superworm (Alison Green Books) and The Paper Dolls (Macmillan Children’s Books) will be published in autumn 2012.

Children invited to make bunting in Blakenall and beyond

Union Flag Bunting

Creative children are being invited to get busy with bunting over the next few weeks as Walsall gets the flags out to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year.

Bunting making sessions are being held at libraries throughout the borough during February, March and April.

Sessions are being held this week at on Friday 17 February at New Invention Library and Pheasey Library all morning.

The sessions are free and young artists can use fabric pens to colour in a white flag with their favourite book or book character designs.

These will be sewn together to make bunting for Walsall town centre and the borough’s district centres.

Libraries in Aldridge, Rushall, Beechdale, Pleck, Willenhall, South Walsall, Darlaston, Blakenall and Brownhills are all taking part and Walsall Central Library set the wheels in motion earlier this month.

Rita Mills, Walsall Council strategic manager, said: “The sessions are great fun for all ages and we’ll be doing the Queen proud when we display our bunting to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee Year.”

For details on the March and April sessions please contact your local library or e-mail infoexpress@walsall.gov.uk