The Community Managed Libraries Toolkit

Welcome to our interactive toolkit for Community Managed Libraries. This toolkit should be the first point of information on issues relating to the transfer of library assets and services to community based organisations.

This toolkit provides information, resources and case studies that will be of use for anyone contemplating asset and service transfer in a library context. For community organisations and Parish / Town Councils it provides information on the practicalities, and issues you will need to consider to successfully taking on a library service or building.

For local authorities wishing to reshape their services and transfer them to community management, it highlights key considerations highlighting relevant legal advice and current good practice.

The toolkit and associated resources provide information regarding asset and service transfer. Although the issues of library service delivery and asset transfer are related, they are not mutually exclusive. Some authorities will transfer library buildings with no requirement for community organisations to provide library services enabling new community uses for these assets. In other circumstances a local authority may seek to retain or sell off a library building and fund a community organisation to deliver a library service under contract to compensate.

The first 6 sections of this toolkit focus primarily on planning for a Library Transfer. Sections 7 and 8 are primarily concerned with service related issues.

The most successful transfers are those that are collaborative efforts, where effective partnerships are forged and developed over time between public bodies and the receiving community based organisation. For guidance on developing effective partnerships in the transfer process see the “partnership route map” guide.

For community based organisations seeking more support, Locality is offering a range of enterprise and asset transfer support including networking events and workshops for community libraries. Keep an eye on the events page for the latest details.

Like all major projects, it is helpful to break the process down into manageable chunks.

The transfer process is presented here as a step by step process, although in practice some elements may be carried out concurrently, in a different order or skipped completely depending on the starting point in each case. It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with each of the sections before working your way through each of them as you progress your project.

Each section provides an overview of the key issues to consider. In the right hand column of each section, you will find recommended resources from across the knowledge hub including toolkits, templates, legal notes, answers to commonly asked questions, and in-depth case studies based on real-life examples. We encourage all network members to contribute to the continual evolution of these resources by contributing their own resources and stories.

At the close of each section there are some key considerations for local authorities and / or based community organisations. Although specific considerations have been highlighted separately for ease of reference, we would encourage representatives from each side to become familiar with the others' perspective; so that both have a fully rounded understanding of the context and practicalities of the issues.

The toolkit is organised into the following sections.

1. Action Planning Tool Overview: This section that you are reading gives you some quick guidelines on how to use the tool, what its purpose is and what kind of information it contains.


2. Understanding Asset Transfer: This section provides an overview and background about Asset Transfer, and considers how it is relevant to community managed libraries. It identifies some key legal issues, and considers the potential benefits and factors that make asset transfer suitable.


3. Getting Started:  This section provides information on key considerations for community organisations seeking to take on a library. It is designed to help organisations evaluate the desirability and viability of any potential library transfer.


4. Getting Investment Ready / Making a Convincing Case: This section provides information on key considerations and activities that need to be undertaken to take organisations from a basic proposal to a position where they can secure investment, and make a convincing case for transfer. It covers sources of finance, governance issues, and business planning.


5. Asset Ownership and Management Agreements: This section looks at the various options with regard to asset ownership and management from short terms licence agreements to freehold asset transfer. It also provides information on issues such as legal, insurance and tax considerations.


6. Property Development: This section provides an overview of key issues and processes for organisations seeking to carry out building or refurbishment works as part of their projects.


7. Premises Management: This section provides an overview of key considerations to plan and prepare for relating to the management and maintenance of a community building.


8. Developing Services: This section focuses on the processes involved in developing the services and activities that will be delivered from your library. It includes information on core library services, as well as related services.


9. Managing Services: This section focuses on the systems, policies and processes that are required to manage and run services on a day to day basis including key operational issues such as: managing people, managing finances, demonstrating impact, and accountability.


10. Supporting Library Transfer: This section aims to support and develop good practice for local authorities seeking to support Library Transfer to community organisations.