Maindee Library Refresh 2017-2018

On Thursday 27th July we will host the first of the sessions where Maggie and Kim [pictured left and right below] meet the community who use the library.

Maggie and Kim at the Library

This blog post explains the story of Maindee library and the work to refresh the fabric of the building between autumn 2017 and summer 2018. We tell the story of how the library is run by volunteers and how it functions financially by income earned from room rentals. We also explain how much money we are planning to spend and why we are giving a priority to creative initiatives within the process.

A volunteer run library in Maindee

Maindee Library has been completely run by volunteers since it reopened to the public on October 31st 2015. Some volunteers are experienced at working in libraries, but the majority give their time because they care about their local community and want to help by giving a little bit of time every week.


As Maggie and Kim come as a pair for this project, the library is staffed by two volunteers at any one time. We are now open on four weekdays between 10AM to 5PM - Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday it is open 10AM to 1PM. The library is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Sunday. Sometimes there are special events in the evenings and at the weekend.


What makes the library worthwhile? Some special things that happen in Maindee Library


The library has a good range of books which are free to borrow, but there is much more which makes it all worthwhile.


  • Art and craft activities

  • Being able to welcome friendship clubs

  • Events such as talks about local history

  • Growing vegetables in the front yard

  • This project to refurbish the building!

Take a look at the Facebook and Instagram pages to see the range of activities.


The future? Why is this work to the building so important?


Money is very hard to find for all public and community services. Newport City Council closed Maindee Library in the summer of 2015 and are unlikely to provide any grants for ongoing costs like staff and books.


The building is now run by local charity Maindee Unlimited [MU]. Since October 2015 MU have worked hard to bring in paying clients who rent the space. For example, the NHS run the Road to Wellbeing course every Wednesday evening and we lease our meeting room to Michelle Brown who runs counselling sessions.


In October 2016 MU came very close to getting a large grant from the Big Lottery Fund to refurbish the building. Unfortunately the Big Lottery did not think that the proposals were financially ambitious enough. Not getting the funding was disappointing, but we realised that we have a strong group of people who support the library and a desire to make this a long-term success.

Being financially well-resourced is not everything. Being able to do fun and creative things - like planting fruit and vegetables in the flower beds [see below] -goes a long way. Everybody at Maindee Library is doing really well. 

 

Growing incredible edibles at Maindee Library

Though we missed out on the big funding, MU have raised approximately £200,000 in one-off grants to make improvements to the building - see more in budget secrion below.

The whole operation will get more serious this summer as Newport City Council will give us a 25-year lease to the building. The money to improve the building can only be spent once and the only finance that we have for day-to-day costs will come from rental income. We have to make sure that this refurbishment to the building allows us to keep the running costs manageable.


What is the budget? How will this work?


This budget of just over £200,000 for the library is not massive for a public building like this.

  • Firstly the building is twice as big as the average UK house [Library is 192m² whereas average house is 92.3m²].
  • Secondly the specifications for things like floor coverings and heating systems in public buildings are much higher than for our own houses.
  • Thirdly we also have to conform to the law in terms of access for everybody - including lighting as well as the basics of toilets and access ramps.

It is always sensible for a budget to have a contingency and tradespeople nearly always have to charge VAT on top of the basic prices that they quote.

£121,000 for works to the building

£24,200 VAT on works

£12,100 a contingency based on 10% of works

We know that the budgets will be very tight. In fact, we have to make some bold decisions about what things costs and how to prioritise. Some things in the building will have to remain the same.


Can we be smart with the money? And how do we get you involved?


Our first big decision is to put aside £45,000 for creative and making activities. This money is part of the overall total and in addition to the figure for the works, VAT and contingency. We feel that we can get value by being playful and collaborative. For example, we can make things like shelves and furtniture and can we give people opportunities to gain new skills and experiences as we refurbish the building.


Our first move to be playful and collaborative is by being open about the costs of making this all happen. Come along to the You be the Architect! session on Tuesday 1st August 5.30pm to 7.3pm. The session will be facilitated by Rosie from Splash and Ripple. We promise that you will enjoy yourself if nothing also.

You be the architect!

Money is always handy, but most other building refurbishments do not have the energy and commitment of people like Maggie and Kim behind them. We want to share the experience of investing time and resource with you and look forward to any input that you may have.

What happens next?

We are still looking to get your ideas through our online survey. During August we will run the You be the Architect! session - Tuesday 1st - and we will compile all of the responses to the surveys. These exercise will help us to make priorities and understand how people can contribute to the future of the library.

In the autumn we will start to make changes to the fabric of the building - toilets are probably going to be high on the list. We will also trial different playful and collaborative ideas, like different ways of organising the space and making things. We aim for Christmas to be a time of rest where we can celebrate our work so far. In the first few months of 2018 we will make more changes to the building in time for easter. In the spring and early summer of 2018 we want to run events and relaunch the refreshed Maindee Library.

We look forward to meeting people today and over the next year.

Related Links

The Road to Wellbeing course every Wednesday

Counselling sessions with Michelle Brown

Maindee Library on Facebook and Instagram

Try the You be the Architect! session on August 1st

Playing games with Splash and Ripple

Send us your ideas online survey

Share on Social Media

Supported by:

Lottery Funded Logo Garfield Weston Logo Esmee Fairbairn Logo Arts Council Wales Logo Lottery Funded Logo Lottery Funded Logo