FOLIO Sutton Coldfield is delighted to announce it has been awarded a substantial grant by Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust in order to purchase the specialist play equipment that will feature in FOLIO’s play-café, Little Green Bookworm.

In response to this exciting news FOLIO Trustee and Fundrasing Lead, Noran Flynn said:

“The trustees of FOLIO are very appreciative of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust awarding us £17,350 funding to install an exciting play structure in our play-café inside Sutton Coldfield Library. We are local people who are responding to local residents’ requests for a play-café in the heart of Sutton Coldfield and this funding from a local charity will allow us to provide an exciting venue that will offer a service and activities for all residents. We are keen to work with other partners to develop a vibrant hub that will offer a wide range of activities accessible to all Sutton Coldfield residents.”

Commenting on their decision to award FOLIO this major grant, Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust said:

“The Trust has supported Sutton Coldfield libraries for many years through the Summer Reading Challenge and is pleased to continue this commitment with the establishment of such a unique facility in the Town Centre.”

In addition to the external grants FOLIO has now secured, Sutton Coldfield Town Council’s commitment to play a key role in securing the future of the library has been vital and FOLIO recognises the crucial role they have played. It was this time last year Cllr Liz Parry tabled a motion to get the Sutton Coldfield Town Council to commit (at that point) to bridging finance for the library, and the passing of that motion decisively turned the tide in FOLIO’s campaign to save the library.

Cllr Simon Ward, Leader of Sutton Coldfield Town Council commented:

“The Town Council is pleased to support the ongoing work to make the library a sustainable and vibrant resource for all residents of our royal town. We applaud FOLIO’s vision in wanting to appeal to all ages and ensure there is something for everyone at the library.  Retaining our library has been a key achievement of the Town Council over the last year and we are pleased to partner with FOLIO and Birmingham City Council in delivering a longer term solution.”

Work has already begun to install the play-café, (using the experience and expertise of Little Green Frog cafe in Lichfield) and to carry out additional refurbishment inside the library. It is anticipated that library and play-café will re-open around Easter. If you’d like to work in our play-cafe, you can find out more here (yes! We’re now hiring!)

The inclusion of dedicated play areas inside public libraries is a move that more and more libraries are adopting not only in recognition of the key role play has in building literacy skills for children, but also the wider recognition of the need to get children from as young an age as possible hooked on their local library in order to grow and nurture library patrons of the future.

In 2015 Knightswood Library in Glasgow invested in a soft play area inside their library. Knightswood Library in discussion with FOLIO confirmed that their soft-play area “works well to attract new users, prolonging and increasing their visits and better engaging them with our book lending and other services“. Over the first full year of the service at Knightswood Library Junior Fiction lending increased by over a third and visitor numbers to the library increased by 7000.

Last Year the Arts Council awarded Eltham Library in Greenwich over £125,000 to install a play-structure in their library, whilst in Canada $1,000,000 was invested in Calgary’s public library to put play at the heart of their library service. “We know that play is a big part of building literacy skills for children,” said Kristen Duke, Service Design Lead with the Calgary Public Library.

FOLIO is delighted to be part of a growing movement that recognises that play in libraries is something to value and invest in, and are thrilled that this has also been acknowledge by Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust by means of their award which will fund the new play structure to feature inside Sutton Library.

This exiting news comes hot on the heels of a statement from the newly appointed president of CILIP (the leading professional body for librarians in the UK), Ayub Khan MBE who sees libraries needing to redefine their role in the digital age, recognising how libraries can transform to become community hubs. He also highlighted how many non-users don’t realise just how much libraries have changed or what they now offer and how attracting new library users will be imperative.

FOLIO Chair, Zoe Toft said “All of this aligns very well with what FOLIO is trying to achieve in collaboration with Sutton Coldfield librarians, Birmingham City Council and Sutton Coldfield Town council. Jointly we are working to create a library of the future as recognised widely across the library sector.

Thank you Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust!

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