The plans will see 20 county libraries being transferred to communities, with a drive to recruit interested groups and organisations starting in the new year.
Groups accepted to run a community managed library (CML) will be supported with five years tapered grant funding, two years assistance from council staff to manage the transition and the financial processes and training in all aspects of running a CML.
The county council’s Cabinet agreed the plans, which form the Derbyshire Public Library Service Strategy `Libraries for Derbyshire’, at its meeting on Thursday (20 Dec).
Other changes in the `Libraries for Derbyshire’ plan include a reduction in weekly opening hours across the library service, a reduction in the materials fund and a proposal to transfer the mobile library service to community management.
Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis welcomed the green light being given by Cabinet and urged communities to get behind the plans as they progress in the new year.
The council currently runs 45 libraries across the county and two mobile libraries, but proposed the changes to achieve savings of £1.6m from the library service budget by 2021.
It was also recognised that the service needed to change to reflect the different ways people access information and use new technology.
More than 7,000 Derbyshire residents had their say on the plans during a 12-week consultation held earlier this year, and as a result a number of changes were made to the final proposals which were agreed by Cabinet.
Following concerns raised in the consultation about the implementation of Smart libraries (unstaffed/self-service), it was agreed that the concept would be trialled at a small number of libraries at a future date before any future implementation is considered.
Plans to stop the DVD loan service from next April were also revised following the consultation, and people will now be able to borrow DVDs until March 2021 for free at larger libraries, although no new stock will be added to the collection.
Councillor Lewis, who is also the Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism, said:
"We know how important libraries are to our communities and are confident these plans are the best way forward to secure their future.
"Following the consultation we made a number of changes to reflect what people told us and I'd like to encourage communities to really get behind these plans and support them.
"We're moving into an exciting time now as we look to talk seriously with groups and organisations about how they can successfully take over and run their local library.
"Whether they are established organisations or groups looking to set up specifically to run a CML, there will be support covering all aspects from council staff.
"We want this to succeed and to ensure all libraries enjoy a successful and bright future."
A total of £742,000 has been allocated to ensure the smooth transition of the 20 libraries to community management. This includes a shared £50,000 pot to be used for external support from the voluntary sector to help community groups establish themselves and bid to run their local library.
All 45 libraries will remain part of Derbyshire County Council’s statutory network although groups running CMLs will take on responsibility for day-to-day maintenance and running of the buildings.
In the new year the council will hold a series of open days in the 20 CML locations and begin to identify and liaise with interested community groups and organisations. This will be followed by a second stage, where interested groups will be asked to put together a business plan, with support on offer if needed.
Submitted business plans will then be assessed, with successful groups being invited to work with the council to progress their proposals.
The council will also explore the potential to set up Friends Groups for the 25 libraries that it will continue to run at a later date. The new Friends Groups could act as ambassadors and advocates for the library service, supporting staff and promoting what the libraries have to offer.
A CML information pack will be available from the council in mid-January and also at Libraries for Derbyshire.
Interested groups or individuals can also email: email@example.com to register their interest or ask for more information.
Dates for the open days will be announced in the new year.