Crofton Park Community Library

Crofton Park Community Library

16th Jan 2012
Eco Computer Systems is providing an integrated community hub offer at Crofton Park Community Library, which is one of four library buildings now managed by the social enterprise. Alongside book loans, children's reading initiatives and other activities, there is a developing extended offer that is tailored to local needs and aimed at generating income streams.
Crofton Park Community Library

On offer at Crofton Park:

Opening for 40 hours a week, including two evenings and all day Saturday operations, Crofton Park Community Library is diversifying to deliver a range of services alongside the core offer of book lending and reading initiatives. A community cafe, computer recycling terminal and rooms for hire are already available to users of the library building. Plans for the coming months include, starting up pre-employment support projects and delivering IT training in response to local demand. It is also hoped that a 'pop up' cinema, community radio station and local history facility will draw into the building an increasing number of visitors.

Negotiating terms:

It is not all plain sailing. Recent reports of a down turn in book lending at Crofton Park, may in part be due to teething trouble preventing access to Lewisham Council's online monitoring systems. Eco Computer Systems (ECS) had a small window of just five months following a succesful expresion of interest stage, to develop an operational business plan for Crofton Park Library and other library sites. Other issues being addressed now include a substantial maintenance back log. ECS are negotiating the full terms of the lease agreement but the original offer was for a twenty-five year full repairing lease. The length of the lease in its current format could provide problems in accessing capital funding to maintain the buildings, as it is not long enough. Other features of the proposed service level agreement require ECS to dedicate a minimum amount of space for library services and for the Council to maintain regular re-stocking and to install self- service equipment.

Tailoring services:

Eco-Computer Systems manage three library buildings in Lewisham, London following an open procurement process. All three are located in deprived inner-London boroughs. The 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation ranked Lewisham 31st out of 354 local areas in England. Services have to reflect local issues and demand for affordable access to knowledge, to inspire new futures, accommodate diversity in cultures and language and a higher than average younger population. Current demand is strongest amongst families with young children and a core group that make use of the free Internet access.  Darren Taylor, the Chief Executive of ECS was particularly keen to save libraries threatened with closure in Lewisham recognising the valuable focal point to the community having spent a lot of time there as a child learning to read. From a social enterprise perspective, he also recognised that the library building has capacity to generate income by providing new and in-demand local services.

Long term sustainability and resource concerns

The ethos is to generate income streams principally through IT recycling to fund the employment of a part time hub manager in each of the three buildings. Online book sales and IT training are currently the two other main sources of income. The library has around 35 regular volunteers that help run the library service. Volunteers are managed in house and are involved in a wide range of activities such as shelf tidying, opening and closing the library and running activities for children such a parent and toddler sing alongs and the Summer Reading Challenge. Day to day management is overseen by a paid member of staff.


Extract from information prepared by Tony Rich of Rich Consulting.


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Crofton Park Community Library

On offer at Crofton Park: Opening for 40 hours a week, including two ...