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Community Managed Libraries

Community Managed Libraries (CMLs) are community-led and volunteer-managed libraries, normally with some form of professional and ongoing council support.

CMLs can be part of the library network but these libraries don’t have to be included as part of the statutory provision. However, it is proposed they will stay as part of the statutory network in Derbyshire.

A volunteer-run library is still an open public library, where people can change their books and use the computers. Local volunteers will naturally know a lot about their community.

Locality is a national network of community-led organisations and has a ‘knowledge management hub for community libraries’ which is involved in assisting volunteer and community-run libraries.

It lists the following as benefits of volunteer-run libraries:

  • reduced running costs for local authorities
  • increased community involvement in, and control over, local services
  • increased take-up of library services
  • library service innovation and diversification
  • improved access to a range of public services

Locality says there is reasonable evidence for all of these benefits from existing voluntary libraries. With sufficient numbers of people, a volunteer-run library can open longer than an equivalent council-run library. Additional volunteer resource, greater flexibility and local focus may also result in improved library stock.

Community managed libraries are already running in other parts of the country

Many authorities have changed the way their library service is funded, run and managed. Working in partnership with local organisations, bodies like parish and town councils, and trusts, there are hundreds of community-managed libraries running across the country. In some areas this has meant locally run libraries being able to provide a more bespoke service, with longer opening hours and additional services, that is more responsive to their community’s needs. Authorities include Sheffield, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.

We’ll be offering support and training to run libraries

If agreed following consultation, we would ensure that sufficient support is in place to ensure a smooth transition to community management. It’s acknowledged that it will take a significant amount of time to develop and embed the new approach to providing the service.

There would be:

  • training and ongoing professional support
  • free library stock and the ability to manage it
  • free computers for public use
  • a transfer of county council-owned buildings on a nominal 'peppercorn' rent
  • a grant for each of the first 4 years of the transfer towards total costs
  • a grant for each of the first 4 years towards a different approach to mobile library provision.