Subscribe to email updates via Mail Chimp

Friday, 29 June 2012

Summer Book Trail - just fab or a flop in the making?

An article in the local press promotes the adult Summer reading challenge in Croydon libraries. You can read the full article here and our response here.

The Your Croydon E- bulletin, emailed out to households across the borough today, follows up by promoting this too, yet also makes no mention of the children's Summer Book Trail running during the same period. The glossy magazine version, the June issue of Your Croydon, ironically only accessed by many residents via their local libraries, fails to mention either.

The children's Book Trail all but failed last year as this was the first year Croydon relied on volunteers to run the scheme. Coupled with greatly depleted staffing, the Book Trail became a Book Trial for many, including those who refused to return after the Trail was cancelled without notice because of lack of staff to run events and others who felt the Book Trail had lost its attraction.  One letter received,  that we chose not to publish last year, was the outpouring of scorn on Croydon Council by one mother who blamed the authority for ruining the only thing that engaged her son in reading.

But will history repeat itself?

Many report that volunteers are not coming forward to run the children's Summer Booktrail again this year. Initially the information specified that  volunteers needed to be between 16 and 25 years of age, as was the case last year. The poor response reported would seem to be supported by the fact that the upper age limit has been removed recently to encourage older people to come forward to try to fill the void.

There is further confusion as the Council information requires volunteers to commit to a minimum of five sessions, yet the revised paperwork, which only recently appeared in some Croydon libraries, also asked applicants to complete not only the council application but also requests that the applicant registers on the  the Do_it Volunteering website as they are now working with Croydon Voluntary Action. The link to the role can be found here: CVA - Croydon Book Trail Volunteer

This site provides different information to the details on display in the library and on application forms, including unnecessarily duplicated information.

But the striking difference is here, where it makes clear that volunteers must commit to a minimum of ten sessions, not five as advertised by the council.

And despite concern raised by residents and library campaigners last year about the need for CRB checks, which resulted in Cllr Sara Bashford giving assurances that the issue would be addressed, there is still no mention of this, this year.

Nor is there any mention of a closing date in order for volunteers to be interviewed and successful applicants to be given sufficient training to carry out the role, a role previously carried out by qualified and experienced library staff. 

Are we in for a repeat of last year?  Everything would seem to indicate so.

We'd love to hear what residents think.

What was your experience of Book Trail last year?

Does the lack of clarity around training and the CRB checks on volunteers concern you, or is having library staff around to offer supervision and guidance sufficient?

What, to you, makes the children's Summer Book Trail a worthwhile experience?

Are you volunteering to help, and if so, what is your motivation for doing so?

You can add a comment to the blog or email your comment to Please sign your post with a pseudonym or identifier if you do not log in with a facebook, blogger or twitter account.

We'd also love comments by children and teens, via email, but please give us a first name only to use on the post and your age, along with a parent's permission for us to post your comment.

And if you'd like details of this year's plans for Book Trail you can access them here: Book Trail 2012


1 comment:

  1. I definitely thought the summer book trail had lost its buzz last year, compared to previous years. Not least because every time we happened to go, it was so quiet with only one or two other families there. Not sure whether that was due to lack of info about the scheme and/or concerns it wasn't running or even the volunteers and possibly their training. It didn't seem as busy at Sanderstead library but perhaps we just happened to go at quieter times. I tried to find out about this year's scheme to see if I could register in advance last weekend but unfortunately regular staff were not on hand to help (there was a member of staff from Selsdon helping out) so I need to go in this week to find out. I still plan to go along with my 7 yr old (who enjoys the book trail and its "rewards" of bookmarks, pencils, badges etc) and my 2 and half yr old - both of whom love their books. So I am hoping the scheme will be a success and run smoothly.And personally, I think CRB checks are necessary so also hope these will have taken place, and assurances given. More importantly, hope there will be enough volunteers and staff on hand to allow such an important reading scheme to go ahead! Not long to find out!