Case study

Community library: Lechlade, Gloucestershire

Overview of a community library from the perspective of the community

Lechlade community library, Gloucestershire
Lechlade community library, Gloucestershire. Photo credit: Julia Chandler/Libraries Taskforce

Community library model and governance

Lechlade Community Library and Information Centre is registered as a charity and a limited company. There is a management team of 5 directors who cover the following roles: finance, maintenance, health and safety, secretary and volunteer coordinator.

Agreement with the local authority / funding

Lechlade community library is run by volunteers who under the terms of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) receive a grant of £10,000 a year for 5 years from the county council.

Under the SLA the local authority provides:

  • premises provided at a peppercorn rent and is responsible for external building maintenance
  • on-going support for volunteers from a community libraries support officer
  • support from Gloucestershire’s Rural Communities Council to give communities independent advice and support during the planning period
  • book shelving and library furniture
  • an initial collection of library books
  • access to and support of the Library Management System (LMS) for the purpose of:
    • administering the community library
    • issuing and returning books
    • maintaining the library membership
    • managing reservations for customer
  • the use and support of People’s Network PCs to provide users with access to the internet and Gloucestershire County Council’s virtual library

Role of the community

Under the SLA, the community is responsible for the internal electrics and plumbing.

Using some of the allocated grant, they have chosen to buy their own books either online or from high street shops and feel that this enables them to get the books that the community wishes to read. In addition to book stock they offer adult and children’s DVDs. New books and all community library stock are restricted from circulation to other libraries although county libraries can make telephone requests for their customers to borrow the books.


There is a team of 30 volunteers.

Opening hours

The library is open for 23 hours per week. The footfall fluctuates as do the issue figures.

Lechlade visits and issues figures

  visits issues
2011/12 19,581 15,425
2012/13 17,107 11,335
2013/14 20,726 10,305
2014/15 22,431 11,052
2015/16 18,335 (to end of Feb 2016) 9,238 (to end of Jan 2016)

Events and activities

The service offers a job seekers club and one to ones on reviewing a CV and identifying transferable skills. The eye catching displays in the children’s area are constantly updated and there is a pre-school rhyme time and a story time on Saturdays. In addition to the library service, the volunteers run a visitor information centre which offers tourist guides and local information and offer a window exhibition area for the local community.

Lessons learnt / outcomes

Since taking over the library, the community have recarpeted the library, installed new lighting, refaced the bookshelves, installed WiFi and new computer benching, purchased new ipads for one to one IT sessions, and installed a kitchenette.

The board ensures that they have a reserve and the town council also has a reserve so they can meet any potential maintenance repairs. When starting to think about the community taking over the running of the library, the Gloucestershire Rural Community Council was very helpful in providing professional advice and support.

Challenges / future plans

The SLA will be up for renewal in 2017 and continuation of the agreement will be vital for the community.

For further information see the Lechlade community library website or their Facebook pages town council facebook

Published 1 April 2016