Press release

Community libraries: guidance from the Arts Council

The Arts Council has published a report looking at how communities are getting involved in the running and management of local libraries.

The report Community libraries - Learning from experience: guiding principles for local authorities published in collaboration with the Local Government Association, follows research from July last year that shows that there has been a rapid growth in communities getting involved in delivering library services over the last year, with over 1 in 10 libraries having some kind of community involvement.

Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles said:

“This report shows that localism is alive and well with more people and local groups playing a bigger part than ever before in providing local services whilst also saving taxpayers money. Libraries can be at the very heart of any neighbourhood and this research shows the kind of contribution active communities can make.

“Councils need to be making it as easy as possible for people to take over buildings and services that are valued by the local community, which is why this government’s Localism Act introduced its new community rights.”

The report also contains guidance for those local authorities wishing to involve their local community in helping with library services, as libraries will need to evolve and become more imaginative in the range of services they offer, becoming not just somewhere to borrow books, but venues offering a wide range of facilities so that they can become truly sustainable assets for the whole community.

Communities Minister Don Foster said:

“During the Olympics we saw children’s literature come to life as one of the opening ceremony’s main themes, reflecting the massive contribution British authors have made at home and across the world. Libraries play a vital role in keeping this going by bringing people together across communities, helping improve literacy for children and adults alike and developing a love of reading for millions of people. The best way to make this happen is when councils, libraries and local people work together and I am thrilled that today’s report envisages that the number of people getting involved with their local library could more than double in the coming years.”

To help those contemplating such a move, we have established a £30 million package of support to help local groups and communities take over assets and services. This includes grant funding, an advice service with a telephone helpline 0845 345 4564 and online contact form which is available through the My Community Rights website.

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