At a time when so much is being cut back and so many people are struggling, it is tempting to say that services like public libraries are just a “nice to have” luxury. But the many members and volunteers who support libraries around the county don’t agree. Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL) represents those groups and individuals, and Clare West, the chair of JAHL says:
“We believe that libraries have a real contribution to make to health, wellbeing, education and the local economy and all the research bears that out. They have a value for all ages and all situations – which is why we talk about “Libraries for Life.” Each time we are told that our libraries will not be closed this year, people assume they are safe. However hours are cut, stock budgets get smaller and there has been a steady reduction in numbers of professional library staff. This precious resource is gradually being chipped away. We have a wonderful, hard-working and very small professional library team in the county who work constantly to maintain standards and support the service but they are trying to do more and more with less and less. We believe they deserve our backing!”
A recent project, supported by the Hereford Council Libraries and Museums Fund, aims to get the message out and find sources of help, whether that help comes in the form of volunteers, campaigners or sponsors. Clare says, “Our aim is to raise awareness of the value of libraries and gain support for the service, so we have developed a range of materials, including pamphlets, a website, and an exhibition display, so that we are equipped to reach out to the community.” Clare is seen collecting the exhibition banners from local company, Impact Print. These banners will be made available to groups throughout the county who are willing and able to display them. So if you are holding an event, need a speaker for your community group or business club or you have some public exhibition space available please do get in touch.