A ground level view

A ground level view

Posted by Anton Schultz  |  19th Aug 2011
There’s been a lot going on with community organisations and residents all over the country coming together to save their libraries since my last post - here’s a quick roundup to reflect some of the activity.

Thanks to all the councils and communities that have been in touch, we’ve recently been in discussions regarding the potential community transfer of more than fifty libraries! I will in due course be contacting everyone who has expressed interest to formally join the network, so please bear with me.

First of all, I’m pleased to present the first of our video case studies, so please have a look, and find out how Fresh Horizon’s local knowledge is helping them to transform services and evolve their thriving community library in partnership with Kirklees council.

You can meet Mike McCusker at our forthcoming national convention where he will be delivering a workshop with me about community managed libraries.

Over in Lincolnshire, Caistor Arts and Culture Centre is featured on tonight’s edition of Village SOS - BBC One at 20:00. Residents’ efforts there have resulted in the transformation of the former Methodist Chapel into a new arts, heritage and library centre.  Check out the village SOS website  for details about the programme and related support available to rural communities with enterprising solutions to local challenges.

In Buckinghamshire, 3 organisations were given the go-ahead by cabinet members to establish community libraries last Tuesday, but as one local group mentions, there is more work to do to determine their viability.

In news from North Yorkshire the Assistant Chief Executive of the County Council has called upon community groups to bolster their plans to keep their libraries going before time runs out this Autumn. Communities there have until October 31 to submit their final business plans if libraries aren't to close next March.

In Bidford, Warwickshire more than 70 people attended to vote unanimously in favour to save their library, with more than 50 villagers signing up as volunteers. This is one of 16 libraries being considered for community management in the county.

A new community library is due to open in Devon. You can read about proposals for Sparkwell Library here. Other community libraries have already opened in Devon at The Red Lion Pub in Dittisham, the Café on the Green in Widecombe-in-the-Moor and the community-owned and run village store in Broadhempston.

Over in Suffolk, fourteen libraries have been chosen for a pilot project to test our community management options.

Also worth noting is the publication of Learning from the first phase of the Future Libraries Programme in the report “Change, options, and how to get there”. It identifies 4 approaches to transforming library services to save money and meet the needs of communities, including new provider models and empowering communities to do things their own way. The report also identifies some requirements to secure sustainable benefits from library transformation efforts: highlighting the importance of allowing suffient time to deliver change, the importance of communications with communities, and fairly apportioning costs and benefits.

All of this demonstrates that, while there is absolutely the potential to support innovative service transformation in relation to libraries, communities need support and the cooperation of local authorities and other partners to achieve this.

If you’d like your community efforts to feature in one of our film case studies, please get in touch - we’d love to share more stories from existing and developing community libraries.

Bye for now,

Anton Schultz

(Development Manager - Locality)


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Change, options and how to get there: Learning from the Future Libraries Programme Phase 1

This document reviews the learning from the Futures Libraries Programme 10 ...