What has been happening since your October update?
Lots has happened! The Library’s trustees have formed a Covid Recovery Group which meets regularly to respond to all pandemic challenges. The team at Gladstone’s Library are working hard on funding applications to cover the financial losses of being closed, and on other applications to help us launch digital events and activities. You might have heard that we recorded an event with Damian Barr, Kit de Waal and Sarah Perry, and we’ve got plans for more to come. You can watch the event whenever you like by clicking here.
The team have spent many days working from home, and we’re getting very proficient at video conferencing. Plans to improve the Library’s computer systems have been fast-tracked thanks to some successful grant funds and we look forward to even more productive days from home. The team have been keeping in touch with lots of other libraries, museums, and hospitality organisations and we’re all learning a great deal from one another.
The biggest news is the huge success of our Recovery Fund, which will be running until the end of February. It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve directly asked our community to help by donating to us, and the response has been fantastically, unpredictably, thrillingly enthusiastic. We’re very close indeed to our £100,000 target, something that we never thought we’d write! Not everyone is able to donate but everyone can write a wonderful message and so many of you did just that. All your messages of love and support have truly helped to keep the team going, and we all want to say a very big thank-you.
UPDATE: Since we announced the ending of the Sponsor a Shelf scheme we've heard from lots of people who want to donate, or who are just learning about the scheme now. Your wish is our command and we're going to extend the scheme: see here for our new blog post.
Will you still be opening in Spring as planned?
Sadly not. The latest pandemic restrictions have put us back where we were in late 2020 – even the most basic staffing costs will lead to financial catastrophe unless we can guarantee trading close to our pre-pandemic rates. While we’re as delighted as everyone else about the vaccination developments, even the most positive projections are that mass inoculation is not likely until the summer.
It’s not just about money. We want all our friends to be safe and well and as hard as this is, staying closed really is the best way to bring this about.
It’s wonderful that so many of you have been telling us that you want to come back. Someone tweeted that they missed libraries – well, we really miss readers! The moment we can safely open, we will fling open the doors and welcome you all in.
When will you be open?
We are trying to work in three-month blocks, so we now think a viable re-opening date is sometime in late summer 2021.
What should I do if I have a booking?
We’ll be in touch, but if you have a query about any booking, existing or new, please direct it to email@example.com. Please don’t call us as our building remains closed and the phone lines are non-operational at the moment.
I bought a voucher – when will it expire?
All vouchers are currently extended to 31st December 2021, and we’ll announce any further extension by the summer. All vouchers will have a reasonable extension added to them to take into account our closure. But again, if you have any specific queries please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve heard about something called the Gladstone Bag: what is it?
The Bag is our new online space! It’s got lots of pockets, filled with useful Reader information, Friends offers, and the Gladstone’s Library Digital Archive. Currently it’s only open to Readers and Friends who have their details registered with us, but soon anyone who books an event with us will be able to register too.
What about Gladfest and other events in 2021?
It’s unlikely that any of our events will run as they usually do. We are working on there being a few, online-only events. Then, if circumstances permit, we might be able to host a small audience – or perhaps have something in the gardens. We’re taking it slowly and sustainably, step by step. But we’re as committed as we ever were to books and book talk, and we promise that there will be events – in some form – in 2021.
What does this mean for the collections?
All our books and archives are safely stored in environmentally-monitored environments. Security and welfare checks are made daily and we’ve even manage to carry out some long-overdue roof improvements. All projects and operational tasks are paused, waiting to begin again. Once we have a team back in place and all procedures up and running, we plan to recruit volunteers to help us gain back some of the time we have lost. Gladstone’s Library is a Living Wage employer and so we only use volunteers on non-core project tasks, but our team have identified several key areas where volunteers can really lend a hand. Watch this space!
I’ve really enjoyed the recent newsletters, will there be more?
We’re so pleased you’ve been enjoying them! Peter Francis, our Warden, is busy writing another for Spring. If you’d like his newsletters directly to your inbox, you can sign up to our newsletter by clicking here and using the green box.
While we’re closed, Peter’s latest newsletter is found on the home page of our website. If you’d like to find older ones, you can find them all on Volume, the Library’s blog.