Writing this is like reaching out to friends you haven’t seen for a long time and whose company you crave. . .
The Covid-19 crisis has been difficult for Gladstone’s Library, as I am sure it has for many of you. Thankfully we are all fit and well at the Library as we hope you are. The painful economic reality of the pandemic meant that we had to make the majority of staff redundant as it was the only way we could ensure a viable future for the Library and cover the considerable running costs that continue even when we are closed. There are now just five of us working hard with the active support of the Trustees to prepare for our re-opening in April 2021. The five of us are here thanks to the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund.
Picking ourselves up from this crisis has inevitably meant that we have been a little silent on social media. In October we will begin posting regularly. We have recently had two zoom meetings with groups of Friends of the Library and we are planning more on-line activity in the coming weeks. In November, we aim to start presenting an on-line programme.
With the permission of those who gave financial support as well as foundations and trusts, we have manged to divert funds designated for future building projects to allow us to undertake essential repair work and to make the Library capable of responding to the requirements of the pandemic. We are making the building a safe environment to enable us to welcome visitors back. We are converting four more bedrooms to have ensuite facilities which means all our bedrooms will now be ensuite; we are building more toilets on the ground floor – there will be 10 unisex cubicles; we are removing a rather dangerous step adjacent to reception that has claimed many ‘victims’ over the years; and our restaurant will no longer be a cafeteria but provide table service; we are also sorting out a number of leaks in the roof. Therefore, when you come back everything will be recognisable but with the addition of a lick of paint and these improvements many of which we have been hoping to implement for several years.
In 2021, we aim to slowly build up our programme. We will be cautious and don’t expect to hold any in-house ‘live’ courses at the start of the year but we are beginning to turn our attention to Gladfest in September 2021. Of course, we plan to have a busy on-line programme alongside whatever live events are possible.
I am only too bitterly aware from the experience of the last months that as soon as you make plans you almost immediately have to change them. However, I wanted to reassure you that we are working and planning to open. We will keep you informed of our progress.