Sean Kelly, Regional Development Officer, Libraries Taskforce, Arts Council England blogs on his new role and what this means for community-managed libraries

You may be aware that in December 2018 the management of the Libraries Taskforce’s activity transferred from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to Arts Council England as the development agency for libraries. As part of this transition, a new role of Regional Development Officer was created, and I was seconded into the post just before the Christmas break.

My role is designed to help improve the regional support available to the sector and to ensure all libraries have access to someone at the Taskforce/the Arts Council who can assist them. Working closely with the CML peer network is crucial to making sure community-managed libraries have the same access to this support as other library services.

There is an enormous quantity of resources, toolkits and guidance available. From a good practice toolkit that is useful for groups that are just beginning to investigate the possibility of starting a community-managed library, to the guidance an established service needs to review when considering an application to the Arts Council National Lottery Projects Grants programme. However, it takes time and resource to find this information, something that is not always in ready supply in library services. I’m eager for community managed libraries and groups that are considering different delivery models to see me as a quick and easy way to access helpful information.

Community Managed Libraries are an expanding part of the library ecology. These libraries are run by passionate advocates for the benefits that libraries can have on communities. They face many challenges and it will be essential to help them overcome them. I have met with the peer network in the first few weeks of my new role and it is clear that working together will help them both to resolve those challenges and realise their potential. I look forward to helping them do this.

Using a wider lens, at the Arts Council, we are working closely with key library stakeholders to maximise the opportunities for collaboration and to enable a joined-up approach in exploring the future of public libraries. These strong partnerships, particularly with CILIP and Libraries Connected, are ensuring that resources are being shared widely and used effectively.

I’m sure I will be speaking to many of you soon. In the meantime, please get in touch with me via email: if there is anything you think I can help with.



Funding Opportunities

Sport England Small Grants – Need a little bit extra to help more people get active in your community? You can apply for grants from £300 to £10,000 to make it happen. Ongoing.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund – Grants of up to £50,000 available for rural projects across the UK. Projects must provide a long-term positive impact to the individuals & communities they seek to benefit. Apply by 21 February.

Partnerships funding – £10,000 available for organisations which work together with a shared set of goals and values. The National Lottery Community Fund are interested in hearing your ideas, whether they’re big or small! Ongoing.

Bright Ideas:   The new £3.2m Bright Ideas Fund will open for applications from Tuesday 26 February!  The Fund supports new community business ideas through the start-up and planning stages with tailored business support, to the implementation stage with grants of up to £15,000.

The Bright Ideas Fund is funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, and delivered by Locality, the national network for community organisations, in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK.   You can start reading the guidance notes to check your eligibility, and register for a webinar to understand what it’s all about and whether you can apply.  CLICK to Find out more

Funder news

Big Lottery Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund have recently refreshed their brands.

  • The Big Lottery Fund changed its name to The National Lottery Community Fund.
  • Heritage Lottery Fund will now be known as The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The announcement of the new identities comes ahead of the unveiling of the next strategic National Lottery Funding Framework, that sets out priorities for the next five years.  It’s a new chapter for both, but much of the work they do remains the same. Find out all about the changes.


Data Protection in a No Deal Brexit – the action you need to take

The UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019.  If there is no deal in place, this would impact how organisations exchange personal data.

Although the UK’s own data protection standards would remain the same (the GDPR will come into our domestic law), there would be changes to how personal data transfers from the EU/EEA to the UK how this could affect your organisation.

It is important for organisations, as a priority, to review whether they would be affected. For those that would be affected, early action is advisable, given changes may take some time to implement. Practical advice and support is available here, including ‘Six Steps to Take’ to help you understand the implications and prepare.

Other information on how leaving the EU may affect your organisation, and what you can do to get ready, is available here.

New deadline to submit your feedback on the Community Asset Transfer Research – now 15 February 2019

The deadline for submitting your feedback to the Power to Change and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Sheffield Hallam University research on assets in community ownership has now been extended to 15th of February 2019.

The project leads are keen to ensure community libraries are represented, and appreciate your support in completing the short survey to share your experiences. As a thank you for completing the survey you will be able to enter a prize a draw to win one of two £100 high street vouchers for your library. The survey should take less than 10 minutes. It may help to have access to your latest financial accounts to help you with some of the questions; though estimates are also accepted for ease of completion.

Complete the questionnaire online at:

If you have any question please contact Catherine Harris via email ( or telephone (0114 225 6113).

Thank you.