Council says move to transfer libraries to community groups has 'exceeded expectations'

Plans by Derbyshire County Council to transfer 20 libraries over to communities are making huge strides forward as local groups and organisations have already come forward to run half of them.

Earlier this year the county council appealed to local groups and organisations to come forward and work with the authority to make plans to transfer 20 out of 45 libraries to communities a reality. 

A series of drop-in sessions and open days were held at all 20 libraries and groups were asked to submit expressions of interest.

Out of all the submissions of interest, 10 were strong enough to be accepted, and the groups behind the submissions are now working on building business cases to show their ideas are sustainable in the long-term.

The areas which have now secured a group or organisation to run the local library are: Borrowash, Duffield, Etwall, Hayfield, Melbourne, Old Whittington, Tideswell, Wingerworth, Whaley Bridge and Woodville.

The council planned to get up to five community libraries up and running by 2021, so the interest has exceeded expectations.

Council staff are offering advice and guidance to all 10 groups where needed as they work on their business cases and look to take their plans to the next stage, which would see them signing a formal agreement with the authority.

Only when groups have signed the agreement (called a service level agreement), will the council be in a position to officially name the successful groups.

Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism Councillor Barry Lewis said: “The library service is highly valued by us and our communities, and we will do everything we can to secure its future and help it to grow and thrive.
“It’s very positive news that so many groups have come forward and seized the opportunity to take over the running of a community library, and we’ve already seen real passion and commitment from people to make this work.

“We know that these plans have the potential to reinvigorate communities and put libraries back into the heart of their town or village and we look forward to working with these groups in the months and years to come.”

Councillor Lewis added: “In other parts of the country where this is already happening, groups are reporting successful grant applications that wouldn’t have been possible under local authority management, and also extended opening hours. I’m confident we’ll see this replicated in Derbyshire in the future.”

Council staff will work with communities in the future where there hasn’t yet been a formal expression of interest submitted for the local library, to support interest already shown and build confidence in smaller groups who may want to apply but need more help or guidance.

Those areas are: Brimington, Clowne, Creswell, Gamesley, Hadfield, Holmewood, Killamarsh, Pinxton, Somercotes and Whitwell.

Open days for groups and organisations interested in running the mobile library service took place in July, and the deadline for submitting expressions of interest is midday on 12 August 2019. 

Communities will be kept informed as to the progress of their community-managed library in the next few months.

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