Friends Matter – August Update

Welcome to the August edition of Friends Matter and since our last edition, Brixham Library has reopened.

The bunting is up and although the hours may be reduced you will of course receive a huge welcome from Emma and her team. It’s been a huge learning curve for them, but they are proving that a library can be open under pandemic conditions. Their experience as one of the four libraries that reopened at the beginning of July will hopefully help others to follow in their wake. However, you may be wondering how the staff coped during our recent period of lockdown, so, here’s their story through the eyes of Emma and Sarah:


Life at the coal face: Emma’s story….

When I closed the library doors on Friday 20th March, I never thought the next time I would open them would Monday 6th July! Very emotional.

Working from home has been a roller-coaster to say the least. We’ve all had tears, laughter and lots of learning. Oh, and SO many Zoom* calls, which my 5-year old son managed to gate-crash nearly every one of them, either needing something to eat or drink, or just wanting the camera to be on him!

Like so many people, juggling working from home and home schooling our children, we have all found it difficult. Sarah and Becca have done an amazing job delivering ‘Music, Rhythm and Rhyme’. I remember Sarah doing a live session and the microphone wasn’t on, so I tried phoning her mobile, home phone and texting her as we could not hear her. Sarah’s husband who was “DJ” unplugged the home phone as he thought everyone watching could hear it ringing. I even sent Sarah’s son a message to say we couldn’t hear her. After the session Sarah phoned me and we had a great laugh over it. Loads of people commented that we couldn’t hear it but because of the actions we knew what song she was doing.

We also had another funny experience when a member of staff shared an author’s promotional clip on Facebook and didn’t realise that at the end they said a swear word and we had to try and delete it, through the laughter we now know to watch it to the end before sharing something .

Michelle said she has also had to learn how to edit craft videos because once it is done and she watches it back she finds her children or husband are in the background!

We all have had to get use to a new way of working, which was scary as none of us where familiar with posting live/scheduled video, editing them and social media in general. But we did it! and I couldn’t be prouder of my team.

I have to say a BIG thank you to Alasdair who answered my cheeky messages about letting workmen into the library early in the morning, meaning I wouldn’t need to travel. Most of these being last minute. Thank you, my old man, I really appreciate it.

The power of a library card is so under-estimated, as we had an email from someone who found a purse and they contacted us as the person had a library card. Becca picked up the purse and delivered it straight to our customer.

Brixham library had the phone forward to myself (only library to do this) I tried to answer every call I could. I had a call late on a Saturday evening from a lady that lived up country and was worried about the welfare of her friend. (sorry I can’t go into details), but I contacted the police and Sarah dropped on some food for him within half an hour of the call.

Finally, when I got the call to say we could be the pilot library in Torbay we all had mixed emotions. Happy to be finally opening our doors again but also worried as we would not be able to help people like we would normally do. Thankfully, most people have been amazing and so pleased we have opened. We have had lots of IT issues in the first week and many people have travelled from Torquay and Paignton to use the computers, so, they were understandable frustrated. But hopefully this is all now sorted.

Thank you all for being amazing and supporting us throughout this difficult time.

Kind regards, Emma

Emma Aydemir – Team Leader, Brixham Libra

NB: Zoom – a relatively new piece of software designed to help on-line meetings. Other similar software is available known as Googles ‘Meet’ & Microsoft ‘Teams’.

Sarah’s Story

For me the biggest challenge at the beginning of Lockdown was my technophobia and lack of skills around social media. On the very first day of working from home I was asked to download Zoom and Trello, neither of which I had heard of, let alone used. I also had to learn very quickly to improve my Facebook skills!

When I did the first live MRR from the library, I found I was getting messages popping up from old colleagues from years ago, as well as far flung friends and family, and as I carried on singing, I wondered how come all these people followed Brixham Library. It turns out I had been broadcasting live on my own personal Facebook page, and not the library’s.

Sound has been an issue. On my first ever Zoom meeting, having struggled to work out how to log on etc, I found everyone chatting away (all Torbay library staff) but I couldn’t work out how to get sound. I was texting Emma to ask if she could hear me, which she couldn’t so I resorted to holding up pieces of paper with what I wanted to say written on. In time I did eventually work out how to converse!

Sound issues were also a problem on one of the Music Rhythm and Rhyme sessions. For some reason I was broadcasting live but no sound was coming out for those watching. People were messaging in the comments that they couldn’t hear, but I couldn’t see these. Emma tried to phone me on my mobile to tell me, but I had turned it to silent while I was doing the music live. Emma then tried to ring my home number, and my husband ran and turned the phone off at the wall, so we weren’t disturbed. Eventually we came to the end of the broadcast not knowing it had all been silent. One of our parents had posted “we can’t hear you but don’t worry we can tell what you are doing by the actions, you do the actions and we will do the singing!” This session became known as the “music rhythm and mime” session.

One last incident was a lesson in not sharing items indiscriminately on Facebook. I saw Sarah Millican talking on her Facebook page saying that she would be reading excerpts from her book “how to be champion” and I shared this on the library page. However, I hadn’t watched it to the end. Having posted it and then watched it I knew all about the book, when it would be read each day etc and she ended with “so join me then, and in the meantime, stay safe, stay home and wash your f****ing hands!” I went totally into panic mode having shared this on the library page, and although I knew how to delete things of course, on this occasion it wouldn’t give me the option to delete. I phoned Becca and Michelle, who are far more computer savvy than me for help, but neither were answering their mobiles. I rang Emma, and she couldn’t stop laughing, I think panic and hysteria had hit. Neither of us could remove the post. Then my 15-year old son just walked into the room, pressed a few keys, deleted the post and walked out without saying anything. Disaster averted, and lesson learnt!

By the end of lockdown, I was able to create and edit films, and have become more confident and I hope a little more proficient.

My highlight of the lockdown has to be the brilliant Book cover challenge. So many people of all ages joined in with real humour, and it was so uplifting for us. They are still available to see on our Facebook page if you click on photos and the book cover challenge album if anyone missed it!

Best wishes, Sarah.

Sarah – Library Assistant, Brixham Library

Window Boxes

During lockdown it wasn’t possible to keep our planters outside the library alive and watered. However, local gardener and horticulturalist John Harvey came to the rescue with an offer to tidy up the plants and replace them for us. Having had a working group down to tidy up the entrance and ramp areas they were swept, clean and tidy but lacked something with the empty boxes. So early one Wednesday morning, I met up with John and Yvonne to get some planting done and they will look lovely once the begonias have settled down in their new home. Thank you to John for supplying the plants and for his generosity of time and to Yvonne for all her help.

And now about me …

Profuse apologies for a personal plug but I am pleased to announce that I have recently been elected by representatives of Friends groups in both Devon and Torbay to join the Executive Board of Libraries Unlimited. My tenure is initially for three years and whilst representing the needs and views of Friends groups I will of course be taking on a wider role as a Board member. I take this opportunity to thank the FoBL committee for their full support and I now look forward to my first meeting in September either in person or by using Zoom.


In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet up with two of our members who have a holiday home in Brixham but haven’t been able to visit for a while, mostly because of the pandemic. It was a wonderful opportunity to get some feedback from them about the newsletter. Whilst being limited by the copy that is available each month, they both liked our newsy style and the breadth of library topics covered.

Contributions , whether text and or photographs would be much appreciated and can be left for my attention in the library or e-mailed to the FoBL contact address

Summer Activities

We have been told that that for the time being normal children’s activities will not be going ahead for the rest of the year and into next. As the library would normally be doing things throughout the summer and during half term holidays, the library is hoping to make up some activity packs. Each will have a theme and we have been asked to make a contribution towards the resources that they will need. One of the suppliers has a sale on so we hope to get good value from the money we spend. Our thanks to Emma and the girls for making the most of an opportunity to help our younger users during the holidays.

News from the Membership Secretary

Angie has asked me pass on her thanks thank to all those people who have renewed their FOBL membership for this year. This is also a reminder to the outstanding people that £5 can be put in an envelope labelled with your name & last year’s number & dropped into the library or returned via the book drop box. 2019/2020 cards will remain valid this year provided membership has been renewed. Payment enables us to continue to support library activities as mentioned in the previous article.

Remember your Mask







And finally……


Alasdair Anderson,

Chairman – The Friends of Brixham Library July 2020