Despite Middlesbrough Council’s rush to rebrand libraries as community hubs Midshire Council has gone one better and teamed-up with a well-known DIY brand, BBQ Base, to launch the community library shed programme. As part of the scheme each library member will get a 10% discount card to use in-store.
Until now little light has been shone on the hitherto unknown issue of shed mountains. A bearded spokesperson for BBQ Base said that people often changed sheds each year due to new seasonal colours being available and more attractive tongue and groove models. “There’s plenty of life left in these poor sheds but people seem to want a different hue each year so the old one’s are abandoned and left out in the rain.”
Councillor Maureen Claim-More, Lead Member for Libraries, said the idea had occurred to her when visiting one of Tower Hamlets Idea Stores. “I was reading an article in Shed Monthly, on my tablet of course, about the problem and the idea just popped into my head. Now that wouldn’t have happened in a traditional library.”
The Save Libraries Right Now Campaign declared that this move would only continue the trend towards a two-tier library service. SLRN said its concern was that users in the most deprived areas would be offloaded with cheap overlapping rough sawn timber models, with more affluent areas being awarded the attractive shiplap cladding option. Councillor Claim-More poo-pooed the objection and said it was spurious scare mongering but stated that volunteers would be needed to paint them. “After all we wouldn’t want them to fall out of fashion”.
She added that males were a falling library demographic but that men loved sheds so the programme would make libraries more attractive to men and drive up visitor numbers. The programme is also adopting the Open+ approach by removing the shed doors to provide access on demand 24/7.
She also confirmed that this is just the first phase of the programme, which if successful will herald the introduction of community library tubs, with hot tubs being installed in the sheds, or summer houses for her own constituents.
Cilip warned that this might have an unfortunate detrimental effect on stock budgets as services struggled to replace water damaged stock. However, the SCL broadly welcomed the move saying “we agree with whatever the LGA say and regard this new and innovative project as part of the universal health offer.”
The Minister for Community Hubs & Amateurs, stated that despite being completely useless he welcomed the programme and would view any council that delivered library sheds and tubs as fulfilling their duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service. He stated ” I have absolutely no idea what the 1964 Act entails but this seems perfectly fine to me.”
The Chair of the Taskforce tasked with following government policy on libraries noted the only thing that would improve the programme was it being delivered by a mutual or trust. The Arts Council meanwhile promised to fund Locality to produce a report which stated that what users really wanted was clean people to help them when they visited a library shed.