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Life changing Notts libraries

Libraries Change Lives Week is taking place between 24th-28th June, highlighting libraries' impact on communities. Inspire, who run Nottinghamshire libraries on behalf of the County Council, is keen to highlight opportunities to read, learn, and enjoy culture, and the impact on users.

Libraries Change Lives is a campaign created by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) to demonstrate the importance of libraries to communities and individuals. CILIP is keen to share ways that libraries contribute to a sense of place, sustainable living, building stronger communities, good health, enterprise, and learning.

Peter Gaw, Chief Executive Officer of Inspire says:

“I am immensely proud of the work that our library teams do in our communities, from nurturing the development of our county’s youngest residents to supporting adults through change and preventing social isolation. It is our aim to continue this work for years to come, and we hope to benefit thousands of lives with our free access support and resources in libraries”.

Membership of Inspire Nottinghamshire Libraries is free and open to all from birth, providing free access to thousands of books in libraries and online. Reading is central to Inspire’s work and is an important part of wellbeing for a lot of people, and this can start at a young age.

“Reading makes me feel free! I feel like I'm in a new world! When I read at bedtime it helps me get ready for the rest of the night and the start of the day! I read at least two chapters but usually 1 chapter. I always feel happy, curious, excited.”

Children and families also have opportunities to connect at creative, singing and rhyme groups, and can even collect free a Bookstart Baby pack courtesy of Booktrust. National Portfolio Organisation funding from Arts Council England allows Inspire to develop high quality cultural experiences for children and families such as theatre and music concerts.

Inspire offers adults opportunities to achieve their learning potential through its Adult Learning provision. With opportunities to gain recognised qualifications or just to learn for fun, the library is a gateway to boost confidence, skills and prospects. For those who can’t read, Inspire’s Adult Reading Scheme provides the chance to learn in a welcoming and judgement-free space. Support for English and Maths through functional skills provides an opportunity to gain a qualification. A learner commented;

“Thank you for giving my dreams the wings to fly, when I thought I couldn't even walk. I started a higher education course in business with accounting, with the Open University last year. The English you taught me has helped me enormously.”

The British Library is just one partner that enables Inspire to offer help with business support and employment. Nottinghamshire’s entrepreneurs have the opportunity to benefit from guidance and 1:1 help on how to get a business off the ground. Library staff and job clubs can help with employment and CV support and access advice about applications, interviewing and more all for free.

Inspire’s volunteering programme Community Makers offers the perfect opportunity to discover new skills and purpose. After multiple lockdowns in the pandemic paired with her physical disability, Kath from Sutton-in-Ashfield had lost her confidence but in November 2020 she applied to be a volunteer and began hosting weekly Places of Welcome sessions with support from her library team. Kath commented;

“It’s given me a new lease of life,” she says, “it’s given me a lot more confidence to talk to people. It’s helped me to enjoy life more, and I don’t feel useless anymore.”

Inspire are currently running yet another Charity Knitting Challenge, which this year will lead to a large donation of handmade blankets being given to the National Health Service as well as care homes, acting as a comfort for vulnerable and cared-for individuals. Anyone can join in, but Inspire’s popular knit and natter clubs support the initiative with an army of crafters joining in.

“What a fabulous project. The skills in Nottinghamshire are kept alive and bound to inspire new knitters. Such an important thing to keep craft alive.”

The annual Summer Reading Challenge gets underway in July and will see thousands of young readers sign up to read six books during the school holidays, along with artist and author workshops linked to The Reading Agency’s Marvellous Makers theme.

In August, the latest What’s On season will launch from family theatre performances that are perfect for families looking to stay local and spend less, to relaxed film screenings aimed at those with memory challenges and requiring additional support. Later this year, selected libraries will also open their doors to local creatives as they host Christmas markets, showcasing small businesses and allowing them to network and build their customer base.

Inspire are also currently offering their users the chance to have a say on the service in the Adult Library User survey which runs until 7th July. Visit inspireculture.org.uk/librarysurvey

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