Why is the Council considering introducing community libraries?
Many library authorities have recognised the value of communities being more involved in the running of local libraries and have worked constructively with their staff and local communities to provide a better library service.
Some of the advantages of community supported or managed libraries are:
The opportunity for the community to improve their library by contributing new ideas and ways of working. In most cases it is service users who are the people best placed to improve a service. By involving the community in the management of their library, people are able to design a service that they want and that the local community will use.
A sense of community ownership of the library. It is possible that a library managed by the community for the community would be able to connect with local residents in a way that the current service does not.
The flexibility to develop the library in different ways. A community run library could be developed in any way the group managing it felt viable. This could allow for a community hub or similar facility to be developed. In some cases community libraries have introduced social clubs, film nights, and café’s small home made products for sale, increased options for after school clubs.
Reduced costs for the Council, enabling us to bridge the funding gap. Library services are being reviewed, along with all other services, because the Council no longer receives as much funding as in previous years. Transferring elements of the library service into the community would save around £210,000. This would add to the savings that have been made elsewhere and reduce the cost of the library service as a whole.
Increased access to funding. It is likely that libraries being run by the community would be able to access higher levels of funding than they currently receive from the Council. Charitable funding, business sponsorship and voluntary sector grants would all become potential sources of money. More money would enable community libraries to deliver a better service.
Keeping libraries open. The establishment of community libraries would mean that all libraries in the Vale of Glamorgan would stay open. Libraries across the country are closing because councils simply do not have the money to keep them open.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council wants to see all libraries in the county stay open. We believe that this is the best way to ensure that happens.Community involvement is not a ‘quick fix’. It benefits from staged development, training, and investment.
The Council and communities will need time and resources to work out how best they can work together to manage the transition to new arrangements. However, we are confident that by working in partnership with community groups we can deliver better libraries together