Visit to Lichfield Library

We began by `sitting comfortably' in the Children's section, to be given an overview of current facilities by Jane Sanderson, acting Town Librarian and Heritage Learning Team Leader and Val Lovatt, Stock and Promotions Team Leader. Val began with a list of statistics demonstrating the Library's popularity. For example, a typical September day saw 2,600 people through the door. During 2005-06, two and a half million adult fiction books, 95,000 DVD's, 163,000 CD's and 19,000 talking books were issued. The current stock comprises 20,000 adult fiction books, 16,000 non-fiction and 11,000 children's books. Videos are now less popular and these, with CD's and DVD's will disappear as greater access to online availabilty is developed.

The Children's Library provides a wide range, from board books for babies to books for teenagers. Babies and Toddlers can enjoy Baby Bouncing and Rhyme and Tot-time Sessions, with rhymes, stories and craft activities - two very noisy sessions (!) which aim to foster a lifelong love of books, and explodes the myth of hushed silence in modern Libraries. Today there is an increase in `teen' publishing (not just Enid Blyton to Anya Seaton). Over 400 children subscribed to the National Summer Reading Scheme in 2006, choosing books with a spy theme, rewarded with certificates and medals.

Adults with mobility problems are transported to the Library for book selection and a service for the housebound is also provided. Book and Poetry writing groups are organised including an evening group who meet at the George Hotel. There is also a popular Local and Family History Service.

Jane continued the talk with a look at the many local history events mounted at the Library, including topics such as Lichfield in WW2, the Staffordshire Regiment, RAF Lichfield, Almshouses, Canal Restoration and the Fauld Explosion. Burntwood Family History Group hold sessions at the Library and family history enthusiasts can now access `' free in the Computer Suite. National Heritage weekend included a `Friends Reunited' for Friary students and a Mass event. Campaigns such as Dyslexia Awareness Week are supported.

Following the talks we were split into two groups to explore the Library's layout, stockrooms and offices. Nursing Home collections were in evidence, with Beechfields selection awaiting delivery. Shelves with book donations and reading group books are stored in the former school cloakroom basement. An intriguing antique safe, dated 1819, stamped with the owner's name, Dr. William Palmer, drew our interest. A former owner of the Friary possibly?

The Library has links with the College and University Campus, with relevant topic books on Law, Tourism, Business etc. and useful references for university and career information strategically placed near the computers. After the tour we gathered in front of Stonyings Fireplace where our Chairman thanked our hostesses for their hospitality in providing an enjoyable and informative event.

Lorna Bushell
November 2006