As the Community Library Samford’s Right to Occupy the old Rangers Clubhouse ended on 31st October 2020, with that building scheduled for demolished, the Library was poised to move into the Samford Parklands Community Hub (SCHUB).
Following the decision by Library members to decline the sub-lease, which voted in the majority by members as unworkable, the Library packed the main collection of specialist reference and books to borrow for a period of hibernation, until such time as a building could be found which would be able to be occupied for at least three years.
Much community interest was shown in the Library decision to not occupy the SCHUB. The 15,ooo plus books are an asset to the community. Many people have no concept of the size and extent of the collection of books, which are now listed very conservatively in the financial accounts as an asset at $30,000. The growth since the inception of the book collection idea has been phenomenal, with the community enthusiastically supporting the specialist reference and book borrowing concept through donating and borrowing books, puzzles, DVD’s, CD’s and games. High quality private collections of Art books, Aviation and Maritime, Gardening, Self Heal/Spiritual books have all been generously donated.
Given the unprecedented expansion of the book collections, the understanding on which the Library committed to the SCHUB changed so significantly, to think it possible the Library would be able to operate in the SCHUB became unfeasible.
Such growth also brought about manpower, accommodation and financial challenges.
At the time, the Library was managed by five people and a small group of occasional helpers, following the introduction of covid restrictions.
As SCHUB principal stakeholder, the SDPPA, and stakeholders RSL, Meals on Wheels, Samford Support Network and the library watched in anticipation as the SCHUB neared completion, many Library issues remained unresolved.
The Library never NOT wanted to move into the SCHUB – the decision to no do so left the Library without a home.
The decision to not occupy the SCHUB was based on a variety of factors:
- Financial: Despite opening less than twenty hours per week, the proposed rental was equal to or greater than other stakeholders operating five days per week, with a proposed additional unspecified amount of commercial cleaning costs to be charged. Entering into a five year lease on these terms was deemed unworkable, with the Library focus required to move away from community activities, to instead an increased focus on fund raising to enable continued residence in the SCHUB. Without a Memorandum of Understanding in place, the Library would also have been subject to any new conditions/requirements the principal stakeholder may have made.
- Insufficient display space for books, puzzles, games etc for borrowing, specialist reference sections, as well as insufficient storage space
- Inability to have a dedicated Children’s area – this whole section was required to be dismantled and packed away when larger functions were held.
- The requirement to change from static book shelving to mobile shelving (reduced height of mobile shelving meant even less books on display) caused angst amongst Library members. Deespite offers of assistance by SDPPA the moving of all mobile shelving and books to against back walls when larger functions were held, was deemed unfeasible by Library members. Physically moving shelving loaded with books also raised WHS issues.
- The designated sub-lease to the Library was a 4m x 4m office space with the book shelving area additional as shared space. Shared space meant anyone entering the building had access to all books – many of these books being specialist, out of print and many having significant value- a value far greater second hand value than books presented at the Library annual Book Sale at for $3 to $5 each.
- The storage area for CLS books was exterior to the building and over 100m distance from the library entry – leaving volunteers subject to extremes in weather – heat, chill, rain etc. The distance involved raised Work Health Safety issues through physical effort moving books such a distance, as well as wear and tear on Library equipment not designed for such use.
- CLS has always been dog friendly with many volunteers bringing their pooches and in turn many visitors look forward to meeting and greeting these special Library members.
- While the above covers most of the Library concerns at the time, in summary CLS opinion was that what was believed to be a community based solution for book display, became more a user pays model and as such was unsuited to the Library low cost/no cost community model.
The Library began to fund raise to build a dedicated building to call home. In community consultation, the vision for the building is an eco-friendly building, with a stage and acoustics to musical arts as well as giving storage and display space for Creative Samford, of whom the Library is a full member and vice versa.
Duplicate copies and duplicate content of donated books are sold or redistributed to remote areas, underprivileged children, hospitals and as requested.
Recent donation include children’s books to BUSHkids – a program that has been running in Qld for over 85 years; Bush Heritage volunteers at the Qld section of the Simpson Desert and a Brisbane hospital for the oncology section.
The CURRENT PRIORITY is to locate enough storage space for the 15,000 or so books and other items in the process of being packed – anyone with shed space, a disused stable, garage space etc. please contact CLS at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to those who have already offered to store specific sections of this community asset.
Likewise, anyone who may have unused office/warehouse space from which the Library may be able to run a pilot library is more than welcome to contact the Library.
The Community Library Samford is and always has been, by the community, for the community.