Improving library users' wellbeing at Thurston Library
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport recently interviewed Friends of Thurston Library chairman Richard Fawcett. The clip the DCMS produced will form part of a forthcoming longer video about Suffolk Libraries and highlights the real difference the library makes to the wellbeing of the local community.
The library improves the wellbeing of all ages by hosting a variety of events and activities. These include Baby Bounce and Tot Rock, Lego Club, Code Club, Manga Club, reading, watercolour and family history groups. These give people living in the area opportunities to combat loneliness and isolation, learn new skills and try new hobbies or get the most from existing interests.
In turn, these interest groups cater to all abilities. Richard describes how the library's Sewing Bee offered a warm welcome, as well as something new, to an isolated young wheelchair user and a library member with an assistance dog. This demonstrates the inclusion and enrichment provided by the library.
Thurston Library also gives opportunities for personal development. Richard tells the story of a shy young woman who bloomed in confidence and developed leadership skills by facilitating the library's Manga Club. In doing so, she has been able to act upon her interest in Manga, improve her career prospects and benefit personally from improved self-esteem.
The Friends of Thurston Library was one of the first friends groups set up when we were transferred from Suffolk County Council in 2012 and have often blazed a trail for the other member organisations. Thurston was not only the first library in the county, but also possibly the first in the country, to loan eReaders, helping them in their aim to include as many people as possible.
One customer in her 90s, with a visual impairment and arthritis, had her life transformed by this service. She was able to enjoy reading again thanks to the availability of a light device with resizable text, as opposed to the heavy large print volumes she was no longer able to lift.
By loaning eReaders, as well as sewing machines and subscriptions to services such as Ancestry, the library also benefits those who might not be able to afford such machines and services themselves. It aims to make residents of Thurston happier and healthier, whatever their age and situation.