How can a library make money?

Ackworth Library wrote...

How can a library make money?

Your answers

Annemarie Naylor wrote...

How can a library make money?

If your service is being delivered as a part of a Public Library Service provision the elements of that service that you can charge for will be limited by the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and any associated local Byelaws. Many Public Libraries are still able to earn extra income by charging for DVD hire or use of rooms. Some have even offered research services for business at a premium rate. However, Community Managed Libraries don’t have to follow traditional council models. There may be business opportunities from cross selling services or goods if you can develop footfall, there might be links to cafes, credit uniions, or commissions from the PCT or Sure Start.

If you are acting as an entirely independent Community Owned Library then you can largely choose what you charge for with the same kinds of freedom as any other enterprise. Depending on your legal structure you may need to make special arrangements such as establish a trading arm but a range of factors need to be considered before you take such action. Before deciding what you would like to charge for you should be clear about the purpose of your library so that your pricing policy is not at odds with your Social Objectives e.g. charging for book borrowing when you are seeking to encourage reading among lower income families. In essence you will have a choice to earn income through your core services, related services, or an entirely separate form of enterprise. You must decide what is most appropriate for your organisation. You will need to consider if there are any restrictions on the use of the building, or specific permissions required for some trading activities.

It is also worth being aware that the type of activities you provide may influence the level of rates and VAT you may be liable to pay.

The “Developing Enterprise” resource can be downloaded here for more information on the subject.

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