I am an "Unlikely Librarian"
I know I don’t really qualify as a real librarian however I find myself regularly in the library doing my best to keep the doors open. This journey began in 2017 following the decision of the local council to close the library in Whickham. I always believed in the importance of the local library and making sure our village does not lose this facility has become a bit of a passion. I, along with about 50 others, volunteered to try and keep our library going.
As a volunteer group we were, and remain, very enthusiastic about our cause. Our group is diverse and talented bringing all kinds of skills and experience to the job. Some of us are retired while others are fitting in volunteering around work and family commitments. Some knowledgeable and patient members of Gateshead Library Services organised training and we spent several happy evenings being walked through the basics of day to day life in a library. It is a curious and interesting fact that when you are in a supportive training environment you feel very competent and knowledgeable, once in our library behind the reception desk, facing real customers, that confidence can easily disappear.
Whickham Volunteer Library Association officially opened its doors in July 2017 and we had queues of keen residents all eager to join our new volunteer library. I have to admit that some of the queuing was caused by our lack of expertise in operating the computers and systems. The queues continued for over a fortnight as we issued hundreds and hundreds of new tickets. Fortunately the enthusiasm of our customers for the library outweighed their frustration at our initial lack of competence. Our library was off to a great start.
10 months into the process we have all developed a few more skills and the library is running efficiently. We are running lots of groups and activities and have received some great customer feedback. I think we have achieved a great deal however there is much left to do.
We are now an official charity with our own website. As we move forward into 2019 we are busy making plans for our future. The opportunities are great; however there are a few challenges ahead as we seek to raise the funding we need to continue.
We look forward to seeing you all in our library. If you are not yet a library member then please call in and we will be delighted to issue you with a library card. The more we all use this fantastic facility the brighter the future will be.
Whickham Volunteer Library Association