With COVID-19 gripping our nation we are now faced with so much uncertainty.   We hope you are all keeping safe and well. We know some libraries have already closed their buildings, others may be winding down now, whilst some of those still open may be taking the lead from their local authorities.

We have pulled together a few links to government and NHS guidelines (many of you may have seen most of these links already) and to national agencies plus practical ideas from some Network members during these very difficult times.

Government Guidance

Other Useful Information

The following links take you to very useful information from the Arts Council, Libraries Connected and NCVO.

Hygiene Precautions

For those who are still open, some CMLs

  • are displaying official guidance about the virus in their building
  • have increased hygiene precautions such as encouraging people to use sanitisers when they enter the building, daily cleaning of the building and touched surfaces eg computers, stairs, tables etc with help from volunteers
  • wipe down books before delivery
  • wearing of gloves when handling or delivering books
  • have made keyboard wipes available
  • have provided hand towels & have plenty of liquid soap
  • exploring hygiene precautions to implement when they re-open to avoid future spread of the virus plus new sustainable approaches to delivering services in the community.  We would love to hear from you if you are doing this, it will be great to share your ideas/experiences with the Network. Contact

Where plans are being made for closure

  • Prepare information for staff, volunteers – this should be happening regularly with updates on the current situation, plans existing and the future (if available)
  • Plan for newsletters / posters just in case (with information about closure, returning & renewing books)
  • Plan communication for key contacts, suppliers, partners, organisations about the closure and returning
  • Conduct an organisational and financial impact assessment, this will help determine the impact of the crisis on the organisation, it will also inform plans/actions to be taken when business resumes. If you have tools you are using for these assessments and are willing to share to help others please email

Volunteers and Staff

The safety of volunteers, staff and our community is paramount and all actions or decisions we take should consider their health, wellbeing and safety.

Ensuring adequate support and communication for our volunteers and staff is important, and some CMLs are exploring ways to stay connected and engaged with older and more vulnerable volunteers when the building is closed. We have captured a few of those below (these ideas also apply to the community, library and service users):

  • Organise online events – these should be promoted through normal networks
  • Live streaming of events which people would normally access from the building eg drawing activities, activities for children, toddlers and babies, music events, digital inclusion, English classes
  • Delivery of books to people’s homes – mobile libraries
  • Online reading group activities
  • Regular e-newsletters and information on social media – to keep people updated, invite comments, ideas and offer encouragement
  • A series of topics suggested by staff, volunteers or the community which are then discussed or debated online eg via Skype
  • Setting up Whatsapp groups to stay connected with staff, volunteers and vulnerable groups in our community who use the library services
  • Putting up posters and information materials, signposting people to support organisations in the community or at national level who can help people who feel isolated, lonely or disconnected from family and friends
  • Find out about other activities taking place in your community, and share them online, on your website, social media or via newsletters.  We were sent this link of online cultural events that people can access whilst stuck at home and you may wish to signpost your colleagues, community/users to these events. How to

Daily Essentials

A trustee from one CML shared some interesting information about daily essentials particularly with so many people now emptying supermarket shelves.  If you or someone you know is interested in getting hold of surplus food that would otherwise be going to waste, you can download some of the apps below for further information:

Update on our CML Online Forum

Our online forum is taking shape nicely and we will let you know when it is ready so we can start using it to share our experiences, learning, ask questions and seek advice/support from our peers.

Thank you for your support and we will stay in touch.


The ‘Digital Lounge’ – a Case Study from Upper Norwood Library Hub, London

Hello Colleagues, hope you are well.

We are very keen to share stories and learning from other CMLs and would like to invite you to share some of the exciting work you are doing in your libraries and the community including stories, case studies and learning on the CML blog site. We are also keen to capture ideas for items to cover/discuss on our online forum once it is up and ready. If you would like to share any of the above with us, please email to

With this in mind, here is a collaborative initiative from the Upper Norwood Library Hub (UNLH) and Caspar Kennerdale who runs a local community business called ClearCommunityWeb in Crystal Palace London.  The case study relates to Digital Lounge which they set up in the Spring of 2019, the project is growing from strength to strength. The team would like to thank all the organisations (listed below) who support this initiative and the amazing volunteers, the community and service users.  Clear Community Web was recently awarded the ‘Best Community Fundamental Digital Skills Training Initiative – England’  by the Social Care Awards. Well done Caspar!

Upper Norwood Library Hub (UNLH) and ClearCommunityWeb – DIGITAL LOUNGE

What is ‘Digital Lounge’.? Digital Lounge supports people of all ages and backgrounds to be more digital savvy whilst socialising and building new friendships in the community. There are various elements to Digital Lounge, they include:-

‘Digital Skills for Seniors’ which runs every Tuesday, classes are currently oversubscribed.  Many of those who attend do not want to leave because they enjoy the warmth and exciting conversations they have whilst learning how to use the computer or tackle issues they have with their laptops, phones, tablets, IT security, fraud and more.   The photo below show one of the classes in session.

Digital Lounge

At the end of the case study you will find some brief stories and quotes from beneficiaries, it shows how the project supports social inclusion and better mental wellbeing.

Then there is the very popular ‘Tea and Tech’, which is part of the Digital Lounge offer.  Tea and Tech was developed closely with a local resident and volunteer, Lin, seen below with Caspar holding her very famous basket. Lin has worked tirelessly for many years as a volunteer and is committed to promoting social and community inclusion across all ages.

Digital Lounge 2

Tea and Tech is a social event with an average of over 25 attendees and volunteers. There is a combination of speakers, demonstrations and socialising to help people feel safer with the internet and their mobile phones whilst enjoying a cup of tea, sandwiches, fruits and the company of others. There is also an opportunity to try using a tablet for the first time. Tea and Tech has had tremendous support from Croydon Council and One Croydon Alliance, disability charity Leonard Cheshire who led a session on assistive technology,  AgeUK Lambeth, Centre 70, Croydon BME Forum, WayAhead, Paxton Green Time Bank, Kingswood Community Shop, Croydon Voluntary Action, Norwood Forum, U3A Norwood.

Another welcome addition to the Digital Lounge is a young person coding club – ‘Coder Dojo’ which regularly has an oversubscribed classroom with a 2:1 ratio of young people and volunteers/ mentors.

ClearCommunityWeb also offers network, web development and social media support, digital training and advice on a range of IT and communication tools. To find out more about UNLH and its activities, the Digital Lounge, Library of Things, then email or contact Caspar directly by phone 07523 646 277 or

You can also contact for further information about the CML National Peer Network or visit our website (we are working on content and an online forum).

Below are some quotes/case studies from beneficiaries

CASE STUDIES CASE STUDY 1: a senior resident with MS was given a mobile phone but had only ever used in for making calls. Over 3 sessions we set the phone up, texted for the first time and set up the Dial a Ride so she could track the location of drivers and felt a little safer.

CASE STUDY 2: Another local resident contacted us to help her younger brother – a male resident mid 30s with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. He comes on a weekly basis to help check for new housing opportunities (as he was recently made homeless but the council and is currently living in Queens hotel), to practice email to familiar members with the goal of starting to become more independent. His sister has commented that it is very unusual for him to keep appointments and stick to something so ‘we must be doing something right’.

CASE STUDY 3:  A senior resident & volunteer was helped to make purchasing decisions for a new mobile phone and pad to use both WhatsApp and Skype with the intention of being able to speak to her mother more regularly who in in poor health. She has subsequently gone out to Sri Lanka and ids teaching her mother how to use this for when she returns to the UK.

A Quote from a Beneficiary

“Far better no question is too basic which when learning computer skills is paramount. All classes and tech sessions are well run, very supportive and everyone learns a lot on a wide range of matters to include mobile phones and computers. All tech covered!”