Library Corner, July 2015


Summer has arrived and we feel that the Library is beginning to emerge into the sunshine.

After two dreadful years when members and staff have been pushed to the utmost limit with genuine worries about the future because of crimes committed by our former Treasurer, things are beginning to look good. Financial checks are in place, management is strong and staff and volunteers are optimistic.

June has been a busy month – On June 13th we hosted, for a second time, the AGM of the Association of Independent Libraries. Librarians from all over the country attended a full weekend with an evening reception on the Friday. On the Saturday lectures by Lizzie Neville of Penzance Conservation on the care of books, and by Andrew Symons on the Couch family were enthusiastically received – as was the delicious lunch and Cornish cream tea provided by Tuna Read and kindly funded by the Tanner Trust.

On June 18th we held an exhibition to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. This idea had been mooted by Elizabeth Sparrow a couple of years ago and she gave a fascinating lecture to a really packed house on her speciality – Waterloo, Wellington and the Peace.

Without stopping for breath we then held our Summer Fete on Mazey Day, with just over £1,600 being banked. Thanks are due to all the helpers. Everyone had a good day and Katie and Nic were rushed off their feet in the Little Wonder Caravan.

On Sunday 21st some Library members attended Evensong in Truro Cathedral where a bosse was dedicated to Joseph Antonio Emidy. Galina Chester has worked tirelessly to bring this about and we were delighted as holders of the Emidy Archive to support her.

On July 1st we received a visit from eight members of Tavistock Library who were given an informative tour by Dawn Walker and a cream tea! A delightful afternoon topped with a generous donation from Tavistock.

We are also taking part in the Penzance Litfest with workshops being held all week in the Reading Room.

The Library building is now in great shape – thanks to the efforts of Mark Penrose who has managed to get rid of all the ghastly strip lighting, to Jonathan Ellery (Chairman’s son and owner of a London Design Studio) who has donated spectacular lighting for the reception room, and to David Mann who has organised complete refurbishment of the Newspaper Room with funding from the Myner Trust.

We shall never understand the decisions and dynamics behind the events that nearly closed the Library but we have learnt valuable lessons.

So it is onwards and upwards, fortified by kindness, support of members, volunteers and staff, the cheery NADFAS Friday team and doughnuts of course.


LIBRARY CLOSED – Saturday 13th June

Please note that the Library will be closed to members on Saturday 13th June as we are hosting The Association of Independent Libraries’ AGM.

Apologies for any inconvenience – we will be open again as usual on Tuesday 16th June.

Re. Theft from Morrab Library

Following the article in The Cornishman we have been inundated with phone calls of support and some members have been asking questions arising from Mary’s statement. There are several comments and letters on the Cornishman website,  and also on the Cornishman Facebook page, and as Mary’s statement and the letters are not printed in today’s edition of The Cornishman, members may like to read these and most questions will be answered.

Theft of Monies from Morrab Library and Church Charities in Penzance

With reference to the article in The Cornishman, 12.03.15, concerning the theft of monies from four charities.

One of those charities is Morrab Library, Morrab Gardens, Penzance – an independent subscription library, one of only 45 in the UK.

The Cornishman reported that our Honorary Treasurer had stolen £17,900 from Morrab Library – the only comment referring to the Library in the account of the hearing at Truro Crown Court, which took place on Friday 6th March 2015.

The Management Committee of Morrab Library would like its members, which number nearly 600, and the general public to know that we have received a cheque from Barclays Bank to the value of £62,049.32, refunded to our account, to its original position prior to the confirmed fraud, with their sincere apologies on September 10th 2014.

The Management Committee worked very closely with the Devon and Cornwall Economic Crime Unit (ECU) from October 2013 until the end of 2014, with their investigation of our Honorary Treasurer, who was elected to this position in March 2005 and dismissed in 2013. He was, as reported, sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to eight charges. A financial investigation will now be carried out and he will face a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to try to recoup some of the money stolen.

From the Library’s point of view we are disappointed and upset at the sentence as we consider this a gross betrayal of trust by the Honorary Treasurer – a volunteer to the Library and its Management Committee, who are all volunteers. This Library has been in existence since the early 1800s and depends on volunteers – from Management to the daily work in the Library, ranging from desk work, fund-raising, meeting and greeting members, private research queries and working in the Photographic Archive.

Having made ourselves as financially stable as possible, with new security measures in place, plus support from the Myner and Tanner Trusts, we feel that the Library can now only progress into the future. We have received many personal donations, mostly anonymous, over the past few months.

We have some 55,000 books, both fiction and non-fiction, most of which can be borrowed by members, and we offer a day rate for non-members to come and use the Library. Our Photo Archive Room, newly built and with new digital equipment, has made us one of the most sophisticated photographic archival units in the county. We are in the process of re-cataloguing and digitally scanning all of the 14,000 images in our collection with our present long term team of volunteers but also with seven new volunteers being trained. Our new Art Room, with a fine and varied number of books, is also proving very popular.

We also have a Newspaper Archive Room holding early newspaper copies, including The Cornishman and West Briton dating from 1815, in our basement archive.

The Borlase, Tremenheere and Dawson archives, containing 13 portfolios of Napoleonic prints, are also available for research.

Our membership fee is £25 per annum but we do offer Life and Group membership and daily fees for visitors – details available by contacting Annabelle Read at the Library in person, or by phone 01736 364474. We welcome new members and we offer research facilities, quiet reading areas, friendship and support. Each winter and spring a programme of lectures is organised, free for members and the public, on a monthly basis. Why not become a member and join us for our annual Summer Fete on Mazey Day, 27th June 2015. We look forward to hearing from you.


Mary Ellery

Chairman of the Morrab Library Management Committee

Easter Hours & World Book Night Events

Please note that the Library will close at 4pm on Thursday 17th April and re-open after the Easter weekend on Tuesday 22nd April at 10am

To celebrate World Book Night on Wednesday 23rd April the Morrab Library will be giving away 100 free books between 12.00 and 3.30pm. Come along and collect your book and take a look at a selection of interesting and unusual books that will be on sale.

At 2.30pm local author Mark Penrose will launch his book “Apologise Later ” – a biography of Hollywood actor Robert Newton, who grew up in West Cornwall.

Hope to see you!

A4 World Book Night 23 April copy