A Book at Beer Time

A book at beer time

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Two rural pubs in Cornwall have teamed up with Cornwall Council’s library services in a unique scheme to provide community libraries for local residents.

The Star Inn at Vogue, near Redruth and The Ship Inn at Lerryn near Lostwithiel have both just opened Community Libraries with funds provided by the rural services organisation, Pub is The Hub, and their Community Services Fund.

Pub is The Hub works across the UK helping rural pubs to diversify their goods and services for the benefit of their communities. Whilst many pubs offer book exchanges and informal book lending, these two library schemes are thought to be the first time that a local authority has worked in partnership to provide library services in a pub that incorporates their books, full library membership based at the pub and access to all the online library services.

Modest grants of £979 for The Star Inn and £999 for The Ship Inn from Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Fund has paid for shelving for the books, signage outside and a computer terminal which links them to the library membership and reservation service.  People wishing to join the library can borrow from the books on shelf in the pubs or reserve books from other libraries in Cornwall using the computer provided. Cornwall Council’s library service will ensure that the books on shelves are regularly updated and books requested online by both pubs’ library members will be delivered to the pubs by the library service. In addition, library membership allows online access to whole host of other services such as reference library, online learning, newspapers and newspaper archives, careers information and even ancestry searches.

Pat Terry, Communities Team Leader from Cornwall Council’s library services says: “We are delighted to begin the start of a unique partnership. 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. The bonus of this scheme is that it has the benefits of high quality library books from the whole of Cornwall’s library stock rather than unmanaged local donations.”

Cornwall Council cabinet member Adam Paynter says: “This is a fantastic idea. Any initiative that encourages people to get involved with books and reading is great and this is an innovative way of combining two great community assets – the library and the pub.”

John Longden, Chief Executive for Pub is The Hub commented: “It is amazing what a small amount of funding and a great partnership of the kind we have with Cornwall Council’s library services can put together. These two pilot projects are the first of their kind and evolved from some community workshops we ran in 2012 with the support of the Big Lottery through our Community Champions initiative.

“We are hoping that the community enjoys and appreciates what these great licensees are doing and the end result is long term sustainability for a great rural asset – the pub. If all goes well it could be a scheme that other library service providers in other areas of the country might consider.”

The Star Inn Community Library, Vogue

The Star Inn at Vogue is a Punch Taverns lease and has been run by Mark and Rachel Graham for nine years. A popular and busy pub, it is frequented mainly by local business with the usual array of drinks, food, entertainment, local teams and even a three piece suite around a flat screen TV in the end room – a real home from home and a proper Cornish welcome.

Having heard about Pub is The Hub encouraging pubs to look into diversification, Mark and Rachel jumped at the idea of adding a community library to their comfortable TV room.

The Ship Inn Community Library, Lerryn

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.

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 had six members signed up.