Tuesday, 27 October 2020

18 September Friends of Sawston Library update


Good news! The library is, at last, in its new home within Sawston Community Hub on New Road, next to the Marven Centre. Bad news! The only view you can get for the time being is from the outside looking in...

Most people in the village probably know that Sawston Village College was the first village college, established with the aim of lifelong learning within the community. With that in mind, the public library was brought into SVC and used to be where the SVC reception area is now; the idea being initially that SVC students would use it during the day and adult education students use it in the evenings. Eight years ago our library, with its rich history and listed bookshelves, burnt down. Plans for a community hub (to house the library and the children's centre which was at Bellbird until recently) were already underway at the time, but that didn't seem to help speed things up - hence eight years of library in a temporary building at the front of SVC. It's all taken an extraordinarily long time, during which the County Council were renting the leaky temporary building - even a year ago I didn't believe that the community hub would actually be built. But here it is, at long last!

As Chair of Friends of Sawston Library, I was invited to have a sneaky tour of the building. After five months of re-reading books from home and occasional bookswaps with friends, seeing shelves and shelves of books and not being able to touch them was challenging... The new space is surprisingly spacious. The floor area isn't very much different from what we had in the temporary library, but with the high ceilings it feels like a much bigger space. It's good to see that the shelving is much more accessible - no shelves so low down that you have to get down on your hands and knees. And it's all on wheels, so that we can move shelves around more easily when we are able to run events again. The computers weren't installed when I visited, but the computer area is a bit more private than we've been used to - much more appropriate if you have to enter sensitive information - and apparently wi-fi is on the way. The children's area will be a real highlight - there's a lovely little cubby-hole, with fairy lights all around - perfect for burrowing into with a book. Lots of childrens picture books are arranged with covers facing out, so it won't be such back-breaking work looking for the next haul. The light in the library is just lovely for reading - lots of natural light, but not so much that you end up squinting.

Further back in the library there are little multi-purpose meeting rooms, which will be used for by various County Council employees.

There's a decent kitchen and several toilets. Outside, a path round the side of the building leads to the children's centre. Ah, and after all my gentle reminders, I am pleased to see there is a thoroughly respectable bike shed. I can't wait to get in and use the library properly!

But sadly, for now, users have to order library books. Go to www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk and click on Libraries, where you can click on the "Join Cambridgeshire Libraries today" button if you're not already a member (it's all free). Before logging on, there are two options:

1. Search the library catalogue and order books as normal. Click on "Search the library cataloge/log in to your account" and log in as normal - use the long number from the front of your library card and your usual PIN. Then you can search for authors, choose books, and order them to come to Sawston Library. Ordering books is free for everyone now.

2. Click on the free "Select and Collect service" just below the title.

This is a library pick 'n' mix, but books instead of tooth decay.

Enter your details as prompted by the form (no spaces in your library card number) and then enter a little description of your likes and dislikes. You can do multiple orders for other members of your household within the same form. You get a phone call or email when your books are ready to collect. It doesn't matter if you don't like them - return them and order more! The Select and Collect books are chosen from within the stock at that particular library - so they can be ready quickly, often within the week. Someone from the library service will email you when they're ready to collect.

Sawston Library is currently open on Mondays 2pm to 6pm and Wednesdays 10am to 2pm. Sadly you're not allowed in the building to browse at the moment; books are collected and dropped off in the foyer at the front of the new Community Hub, which is on New Road next to the Marven Centre.

You'll need to wear a mask unless you're exempt. News just in on mobile libraries - the service is about to return to normal. There's a phrase you don't hear every day! You can't go in the mobile library and browse, but can order in the two ways above - just select your mobile library stop for the collection point. And, of course, you can order books over the phone - call 0345 045 5225 and have your library number ready.

Written down it sounds like a palaver. But think of it as a more pleasant Amazon; you can order from the comfort of your own home, you get a nice walk up to the library, you don't give Jeff Bezos any money and it's free! What's not to love?!

The Friends of Sawston Library committee would normally have an AGM about now. But we've decided to put it off for a year, in the hope that we'll have a better idea then about how we can use our lovely new space that we have argued for for so long. Please do try out one of the book ordering services, and peek through the windows at our lovely new library!

Yasmin Emerson

Chair of Friends of Sawston Library

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