What’s the background to this?
In her blog of 25 January, Sharon Kirkpatrick, one of our secondees, talked about the development of a Community Libraries: Good Practice Toolkit to meet the need identified in the Independent Library Report for England. The Report recommended sharing information, lessons learnt and good practice between Head of Library Services working with volunteers and community-led libraries, and for community organisations who are thinking of taking on the management of a community library.
What does the Toolkit cover?
The new Toolkit follows the process from community engagement through to setting up a community managed library from a local authority and community perspective. It includes regulatory and operational issues that need to be considered and also looks at volunteering schemes in local authority libraries.
In the Toolkit, the Taskforce:
- recognises that there have been increasing numbers of community supported or community managed libraries in England over the last few years [241 community-supported or community-managed libraries in England according to CIPFA figures (April 2104 – March 2015)]. Where this is being considered, the Taskforce think it is vital that local authorities and communities have the best evidence available to make informed decisions, in order to ensure that a high quality and sustainable model is provided for local people
- believes that the involvement of volunteers in supporting paid staff in running public libraries can be valuable in augmenting the services available and ensuring close collaboration and engagement between public libraries and the community
- does not endorse community managed libraries established with no ongoing support from the local authority
This Toolkit is a 'beta' version which means that it is still in development - a few people have reviewed it and provided feedback, but now we want to open it up to a wider group of users to gather their views.
During this beta phase, we will be continually testing and improving the Toolkit and ensuring that the information is current.
We have more case studies and further material to add and if you think there is something we've missed or improvements that we can make, please tell us! We would really welcome your feedback. You can provide feedback online (use the feedback button at the bottom of any page) or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally, as ever, my thanks go to Sharon (who led the project and wrote much of the content), Charlotte Lane and Julia Chandler (who turned it into the web document you see today), and particularly to all the many library staff and communities who generously provided their time and knowledge to make this happen.