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Drive to find groups to run community libraries launched

Published: 4 March 2019

A drive to find local groups and organisations to run 20 community libraries across Derbyshire has been launched.

We're transferring the running of 20 of our 45 libraries over to communities and are now looking for groups and organisations to step forward and work with us to make the plans a reality.

County council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis is appealing to community groups and organisations to take the opportunity now to find out more and book a place at their local library open day.

He said:

“We value our library service and we know that our communities do too. This is a real opportunity for groups to come together and work with us to secure the future of the service by taking over their own library and helping it to grow, thrive and become a tailor-made community hub. It will have the potential to reinvigorate communities and put libraries back into the heart of their town or village.”

Open days are being held at each of the 20 libraries to be transferred to community management, and there will be a wealth of information about running a Derbyshire community library, the application process, the benefits and what support is available.

Detailed information about each library, including facts about the building, opening hours and an inventory will also be available.

All the information, including an `expression of interest’ form and dates for the open days can be found at Libraries for Derbyshire.

All open days will run from midday to 6pm.

Open events for the proposed community management of the mobile library service are also being held, one at Buxton Library and the other at Long Eaton Library. The dates will be announced shortly.

The current drive is to identify groups or organisations to run community libraries, but people who want to volunteer at libraries in the future can still register their interest by email sending their name, contact details and the library they are interested in.

Groups who are not able to attend their local library open day but want to find out more can contact our libraries team at the same email address, with a view to arranging a meeting for a convenient day and time.

The open days will be held on days the libraries are closed to the public so that interested groups can have a tour of the building and talk through the process involved in detail.

Our staff will be on hand every step of the way to guide interested groups through the process, and there will also be help and support for individuals if they want to set up a group from scratch with a view to taking over one of the 20 libraries.

Interested groups will be supported through a two-stage process, and if successful, they will be invited to work with us on a phased basis to ensure a smooth transition.

The launch is the first stage, and interested groups in each area will be identified, with our staff finding out more about their plans and ideas. The second stage will see groups putting together a business plan which will be assessed by officers.

For successful groups we will:

  • support them to run their community managed libraries (CMLs) with five years of grant funding
  • arrange independent support for CMLs in communities where it’s needed
  • give expert support and assistance in the financial processes of running a CML for the first two years
  • manage the transition to a CML, with council staff supporting CML group members for the first two years
  • help CML group members with recruiting and training volunteers, and develop e-learning packages for them to use

There are around 560 community-managed libraries currently up and running across the country, with the number likely to increase as more councils decide to transfer some or all of their libraries over to communities to run.

Councillor Barry Lewis added:

“Libraries are being transferred to communities up and down the country and we’re confident community libraries in Derbyshire will thrive with local people at the helm.

“They’ll be able to offer a wider range of services and opportunities for their residents, tailor-made to suit their needs, possibly extend opening hours and apply for grants that are not open to the council.

“We’ll be with them every step of the way to ensure they succeed.”

If groups do not come forward in some areas over the next couple of months, we will work with communities and partner organisations to gauge interest and support any interested parties who may need additional help or advice to apply.