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Community meetings on Zoom in November. We are holding two online meetings on Zoom for friends’ group trustees towards the end of November, a key purpose of which will be to update you on the financial challenges affecting Suffolk Libraries, as well as update you on other relevant issues. As always, the meetings will be an opportunity for you to raise questions and to discuss issues affecting your group. The meetings will be at the following times:

  • Tuesday 29th November at 10.30am on Zoom.
  • Wednesday 30th November at 2pm on Zoom.

To book a place at one of the meetings, please complete this simple online form https://forms.office.com/r/pArJvNYp7q. The Zoom link can be found on the booking form and will also be circulated to attendees beforehand.

Financial challenge facing Suffolk Libraries. Suffolk Libraries is now facing its biggest challenge since it was formed in 2012. This is in part because the annual funding we receive to pay for running the service reduced by over Ł1m between 2012 and 2017. Since 2017 it has received the same amount each year but without index linking. During this time, costs have increased. Despite this, our organisation has not just kept all of our libraries open but has increased opening hours in some places, broadened the services on offer, improved library spaces and increased the impact and engagement with communities across Suffolk.

This has been all achieved with your help and support, and the dedicated work of the staff team which has implemented a mixture of efficient working and effective fundraising and income generation, despite the financial constraints. Suffolk Libraries made a huge impact on people’s lives during the challenges of the pandemic and is currently developing plans to help as many people as we can during the cost-of-living crisis.

However, we have now reached a point where it will not be possible for Suffolk Libraries to continue running the service in the same way it is currently, unless significant additional funds can be raised in the next few months. Current projections indicate that we will need to generate at least an additional Ł600,000 (if funding from Suffolk County Council remains the same).  This is obviously a very large amount, and I am under no illusions about the extent of the challenge, particularly at a time of such uncertainty in the wider economy. Please be assured that the Board and the staff team are working hard on various areas of fundraising and income generation and on efforts to influence our main funder.

The leadership team is always looking at ways of saving money too, but the fact is that the organisation has already made significant savings over the past ten years so any further substantial economies would be very difficult without impacting the service we provide. This is at a moment when we all need to help in whatever way we can if we want Suffolk Libraries, as it now is, to survive. There are ways that you may be able to help, such as:

  • Donating money to Suffolk Libraries. There are various options around this:
    • Frequency – one off donation or regular donation
    • Individual or group – although friends’ groups may be willing to donate money to Suffolk Libraries, we also welcome individual giving, should any trustees wish to donate
    • General or specific funding – you can choose whether to make a general donation to Suffolk Libraries or for your donation to go into a ring-fenced fund which will be used specifically to fund fundraising and income generation initiatives for the service.
    • Fundraising event – you could donate the proceeds from one (or more) of your fundraising events to Suffolk Libraries
  • Connecting Suffolk Libraries with businesses. Some members may be able to put Suffolk Libraries in touch with businesses who are willing to partner with us or sponsor us.
  • Promoting room hire. We have rooms in many of our libraries, which are an important source of income for us through room hire. Groups can help us spread the word and get more people hiring these spaces.
  • Supporting our Christmas Card offer. We are selling Christmas cards in all our libraries this year. Groups can support us by buying our cards and encouraging others to do the same!
  • Donating high value books. Book sales is an increasingly important source of income for Suffolk Libraries. Groups may have members / trustees who are willing to donate high value books for us to sell.
  • Help spread the word that we are a charity worth supporting. One of our biggest fundraising challenges is that we aren’t a ‘traditional’ charity and therefore people struggle to perceive us as a cause worth supporting. You can help spread the word about the huge impact we have on communities throughout Suffolk, and that we are charity worthy of support.

If you need help with any of the above, please email Director of Community and Performance, Daniel Harvey, at daniel.harvey@suffolklibraries.co.uk or call him on 07824 474739.

Tell us how you’ve helped your library! At the community group meetings in July, it was suggested that we collate information from friends groups about the ways they have raised money for their library, and the things that they have spent this money on. If every group replies to this survey, it will hopefully give us:

1) a lengthy list of fundraising activities / initiatives, which we can share with all groups, giving people ideas for new things they could try.

2) a lengthy list of the many things that friends groups have spent money on in their library, which we can use to highlight the significant impact that groups have had on libraries over the last ten years.

You can access the form by clicking here. Your help in completing this form would be much appreciated.

Information on bank accounts for community and voluntary organisations. Some groups have expressed concern to us that their bank has recently introduced charges for use of their account. You can find information at this link on banking options for community groups which will hopefully be of use, and may help you to find a bank that will not impose changes. https://www.resourcecentre.org.uk/information/bank-accounts-for-community-and-voluntary-organisations/

Promotional postcards for attracting new volunteers. If your group is struggling for volunteers – including trustees – we can provide you with a batch of postcards, specially designed by our graphic designer Kerry, to help you attract new people. You can find an example of the postcard design here. If you would like a batch of these for your library, please email daniel.harvey@suffolklibraries.co.uk and we will sort that out for you.

Zoom account available for member groups to use. We have set up two Zoom accounts for library community groups to ‘book’ so that they can hold online meetings. You can set up your own Zoom account for free, but you will be limited to meetings of 40 minutes duration. We have paid for upgraded accounts that don’t have this limit. If you want to book one, please email daniel.harvey@suffolklibraries.co.uk with your meeting date. As long as one of the accounts is available, Daniel will email you back the login details so you can set up  your meeting.

Join our Suffolk Libraries Members Facebook page where you can connect with trustees of other member groups, share ideas and discuss challenges affecting groups . Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/suffolklibrariesmembers and click on ‘join’.