Ronni Collins and John Pusey have been running their freehold pub, The Ship Inn at Lerryn, in a small village near Lostwithiel, for nine years. Ex-city stockbrokers with the 16th Century Inn as their Cornish bolthole, they have seen their local trade reduce slowly over the years; first the smoking ban, then the cheap alcohol delivered to the door through internet shopping; then the recession – all alongside 50% second home ownership in the village.
They have moved, as have many other rural pubs, to provide food, drink and entertainment alongside ancillary services. They have five letting bedrooms and a cottage for seasonal visitors but for locals they operate the usual quiz and foodie nights plus a pop-up Sunday shop on the one day that the village shop is closed, selling papers and breakfast essentials.
Since attending a Pub is The Hub workshop in late 2012, Ronni worked with the regional advisor, Reg Clarke to set up a community library in the pub. This has been accomplished in partnership with Cornwall Council’s Face to Face Shared Services who are responsible for library provision.
A modest grant of £999 from Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Fund has paid for shelving for the books and a computer terminal which links them to the library membership and reservation service. Cornwall Council’s library service ensures that the books on shelves are regularly updated and books requested online by The Ship Inn’s library members will be delivered at least once a fortnight. The maximum number of books they can borrow is 18 over a three week period. In addition, library membership offers online access to whole host of other services such as reference libraries, online learning, newspapers and newspaper archives, careers information and even ancestry searches.
Pat Terry, Communities Team Leader from Cornwall Council’s library services is delighted to begin the start of a unique partnership and is pleased that this pilot scheme is an opportunity for people in rural areas to have access to library and internet services seven days a week in a warm and welcoming environment rather than a five minute visit by a weekly or fortnightly library van. The key to this scheme is that is has professional input every time the library van delivers the books and it is not reliant upon well-meaning volunteers to keep the range up to date and displayed correctly. Pub regular and villager, Paul Colver is pleased to see the library in his local and plans to move his membership from Lostwithiel library which is only open three days a week. He’s particularly pleased to see the internet connection given that Cornwall’s internet and mobile phone provision can be patchy at best. Meanwhile, another local resident, Rachel Brown, who is an artist and runs the community-owned art shop across the road, will be bringing her four children to the library instead of driving them to Lostwithiel or Bodmin, where parking can be difficult.
Ronni hopes that the library will encourage more women to come in and use the pub, as well as pulling the village community together to support the pub. The jury is still out as to how closely books borrowed and returned will be monitored in a bustling pub environment and they will have to rely on the community’s support and honesty in sticking to the system but two days into the scheme and they have six members signed up. Ronni aims to offer pharmacy and parcel collections in future.
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