Summary feedback from Covid-19 Survey, other feedback and useful learning…..

I hope you are all well and safe.  This morning’s communication

  • provides a brief summary of findings from our recent survey/consultations;
  • dates for the next Virtual networking and learning events
  • links to resources, learning and funding opportunities and some useful ideas from other CMLs


Many thanks to all who contributed. 15 completed the online survey and we received 40+email contributions. 4 main issues identified by CMLs and a number of questions. Some of these are being fed back to appropriate sector agencies and their responses shared with CMLs (see below). We are collectively exploring some of these issues in our Virtual networking and support sessions (see below for future dates), and will be looking at some tailored resources in the near future.

1. Funding and financial support for CMLs, particularly those amongst us who trade in events, space hire, cafes and more… With the buildings shut, there is a significant loss of income, which could potentially impact on the organisation in the longer term.  There was also the question about whether CMLs could access the government package of support for businesses.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has confirmed that CMLs are entirely within the scope for accessing the Government’s Covid-19 business rates relief and cash grants for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors both under the leisure classification and also retail where they trade.   

If a CML has a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 it may be eligible for a cash grant of up to £25,000 and likewise if its property has a rateable value of up to £15,000 it may be eligible for a grant of £10,000.  This is irrespective of whether a CML gets 80% rates relief as a charity and a further 20%  charitable discretionary relief from its local authority which may or may not be given by the Local Authority depending on its policy re discretionary relief.

If a CML is not a charitable trust and is paying business rates it will qualify for a business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year under the Covid-19 scheme.  If a CML is already receiving small business rates relief it will be eligible for a small business grant of £10,000 if it is not a charity and it uses only one property. Applying for a grant or rates relief should be done through the Local Authority that sends you your business rates bill which will have a reference number to quote and also shows what the rateable value of the building is. All details and how to apply will be on your Local Authority’s website under Covid-19.  If it is queried by the business rates team then it may be best to seek support from your Head of Libraries at your Council for your application.

2.  Guidance on book deliveries:  Some of you want to start book deliveries but the question is how to do it in a safe manner to avoid spreading the infection to users or putting volunteers at risk? There were concerns about the hygiene of books and whether to quarantine the books, and for how long?  A few of you have been able to mobilise other local volunteers to deliver food and medicines however for CMLs with volunteers aged 70+, they are all self-isolating so there is no one to do the deliveries and collections. For others the building is shut and will remain so until we are advised to re-open.

3.  The Return: Life as we knew it before will not be the same post crisis.  Will CMLs need to practice social distancing as with many public spaces today? Has anyone thought of a re-opening plan and what this could look like for CMLs? Is there something like a phased, slow return or full on return to normal and what are the key considerations? Some expressed concerns around the building safety and measures to take to prevent a further outbreak in the building/community.  Could limited maintenance tasks in the building can be carried out whilst closed?   One also felt that post lockdown there should be a national publicity drive for the benefits of libraries, involving all community led libraries alongside publicly funded libraries, along with closer working between all types of library, including independent CML’s

4. Volunteers: our lifeline. Social isolation may go on for many months and for some of our volunteers aged 70+ they may be unwilling to return to the buildings once re-opened, whilst some may fear working with the public. Volunteer recruitment, retention and indeed retraining (how to work in a post Covid-19 environment) will be a major issue for CMLs.  Some of you want to know if there are CMLs doing anything to hold onto/bring volunteers back post pandemic? Others felt it would be beneficial to collate a profile of volunteers in the sector and to start working on a succession management strategy for CMLs.  Could CMLs be at risk of having no one to run the building/provide services when we return?

Thank you  again, if you would like to share any of your views, ideas or concerns, do join us at one of our online sessions, or email


Below are the dates for our next networking and support sessions. To book a place simply select the date you wish to attend, follow the instructions provided to register. A Zoom link will be sent nearer the time, please use this to join the session on the day.

Dates for June and early July will be announced in coming weeks.  See below for brief feedback from 3 colleagues who attended on 16 April:

I found it helpful to see and hear people and catching up on the situation they find themselves in, and what they are doing to keep contact with volunteers and service users………. The common themes seem to be how much our libraries have become community hubs and a power for social inclusion, and the engagement and pride our volunteers feel. Linda, Glen Hills, Leicestershire

 Just wanted to say I really, really found the Zoom meeting useful, motivating, informative, well organised and thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone from around the country.  Being given the opportunity to talk and chat to everyone about their libraries was a real breath of fresh air for more.  Deborah, Derby Law Centre

It’s vital that we keep our volunteers and library users interested and engaged during the shutdown period and we are preparing to offer a series of virtual clubs, activities and events.   Alison, Trustee from Northfields Community Library in The Borough of Ealing which was due to open in April 2020, but now unable to due to Covid-19.


Funding Opportunities

There may be Covid-19 funding opportunities specific to your own local communities or regions so do look out for them on relevant websites. You can also check funders’ websites, local authority sites, speak to people in your local networks, listen out for regional/national announcements. Below are a few we have received, some may have deadlines approaching:

Interesting Resources

 Surrey Libraries

Ideas from some CMLs

  • Phone vulnerable customers to make sure they are okay and ask if they are in need of food, chat or prescriptions and then organise yourself or volunteers wherever possible to supply any of that if needed
  • If there are people in your community/users who have a computer or smart phone but are not very good at getting online, you can offer this service to them or help them find out if there is support locally.
  • Offer your space to co-ordinate efforts for food/essential deliveries
  • Put a call out for volunteers of all ages so you can start building a pool of volunteers for when you return
  • Speak to your local authorities about what support is available for your organisation
  • Provide virtual services eg music, storytelling, craft sessions, language classes and reading groups: see Sing Song from Virginia at Garden Surburb Community Library

Thank you all and stay safe.




Virtual Catch Up

Hello Colleagues, I hope you are safe and well.

A reminder that the first Virtual Support and Learning during COVID-19 hosted by David Smith, Chair of the Network, will take place tomorrow 16th April 2020 at 11.30am. If you plan to join the session tomorrow please register HERE.  We will immediately send you a ZOOM link to join the session.

The next session will take place on 30th April 2020 11.30am – 12.30pm, please book a place HERE

Purpose of the Virtual Sessions:

  • To support each other during these unprecedented times and capture your feedback
  • Share ideas, experiences, learning including existing and planned activities during the pandemic
  • Keep abreast with local and national developments including opportunities open to CMLs

The virtual support sessions will be organised through Zoom.

Many thanks and look forward to meeting some of you online.


CML National Peer Network


We hope you are all well and safe.  There is a lot of information contained in this communication and we hope you find it useful.


The Network is involved regularly in contributing information at the strategic level to the DCMS. This means that issues from the field are therefore critically important to pass on quickly in this rapidly evolving situation.  With this in mind, we would like to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your CML and would be very grateful if you could spend 5-7 minutes completing a very short SURVEY by 9 April 2020. Results from the SURVEY  will be shared on this site and passed on as quickly to relevant colleagues.

Please select SURVEY to complete. Thanking you all in advance.

CMLs – Virtual Support and Learning during COVID-19

We have organised two virtual/online support and learning together sessions on

The session will be open to a maximum of 12 people at a time and led by the Chair of the CML National Peer Network, David Smith.  To book, simply click on the date you wish to attend the virtual session and it will take you straight to our Eventbrite booking page. You can then register to join the event. If you experience any difficulties or want further information please email

Further sessions will be planned in May 2020 depending on feedback and learning we capture from the survey and the two online sessions.

Purpose of the Virtual Sessions:

  • To support each other during these unprecedented times and capture your feedback
  • Share ideas, experiences, learning including existing and planned activities during the pandemic
  • Keep abreast with local and national developments including opportunities open to CMLs

The virtual support sessions will be organised through Zoom. Once you register, we will send you a confirmation email plus a short guide explaining how to join the Virtual Support Session on Zoom.


Arts Council

The Arts Council has put together an Emergency Response Package made up of: £20 million available to individuals, £50 million to organisations outside of their National Portfolio and £90 million to National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs).  Please select this link to find out more: ARTS COUNCIL EMERGENCY RESPONSE PACKAGE

Good Finance

Good Finance have also put together a COVID-19 Resource Hub for Charities and Social Enterprises. The site includes useful resources, funding and investment guides, support programmes and much more, available HERE

Power to Change

You can also find out How Power to Change is supporting the community business sector in response to COVID-19 HERE. The site also includes a link to the support packages announced by government.

On 1st April 2020, Power To Change and its delivery partners hosted a Webinar on Managing your community business during the Covid-19 crisis, further information including the presentation slides can be found HERE.


You may wish to check out Locality’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Support hub for COVID-19 funding and support opportunities. For those CMLs who are Locality members, the site includes support available to members.


There is guidance and resources to support charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit NCVO site for further information


We have been collating information and resources we hope will be useful for you, your organisation and communities during these unprecedented times:

  • GIFT AID: If you are concerned GIFT Aid on cancelled tickets

For CMLs who run as theatres or cultural venues who have queries around claiming Gift Aid when patrons agree to donate to the venue the value of their tickets for an event cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, please see the response here.


The following are a few activities organised by some CMLs/organisations during the lockdown period.  You can find out more by clicking the links provided. If you are doing something interesting or have a new idea to share with everyone, then please email

  • Activities for children, families and everyone in the community

We came across this link to activities you can enjoy as a family, with friends and users during the lockdown: Lockdown links.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf.pdf

  • Sing Song Time at Garden Suburb Community Library, Hampstead

Virginia from the Garden Suburb Community Library in Hampstead Garden, North London has run an amazingly successful Sing Song Time on Thursdays, for a number of years.  For many children confined to their homes for the foreseeable future Virginia recorded a special Sing Song Time just for you ! You can access it here:

Virginia would also love to receive feedback either by email or on through Facebook @gardensuburbcommunitylibrary or Twitter @HGScLibrary

  •  Daily live streams at the Upper Norwood Library Hub:  Upper Norwood Library Hub in London runs volunteer led daily live streams: from yoga, to singing classes, talk shows to bed-time stories. You can join/access by selecting this link: DAILY LIVE STREAMS FROM UNLH

Digital Inclusion sessions – Virtual Offer from Clearcommunityweb and Upper Norwood Library Hub

The library hub also offers virtual digital sessions each week for Seniors, both 1-1 and group sessions. Sessions include

  • Help to set up video chat software to stay in contact with family, friends, neighbours during this time. (Skype/ Facetime/ WhatsApp)
  • Help to set up online shopping account and making that first purchase
  • Critical form filling and applications: Council, Rent, Health Service

Harbury Community Library

Runs online Classic Book Group and relaunch of online Spanish and French lessons, online publication of cake recipes from list of favourite homemade cakes served in the library cafe, online publication of art works by local artists which are currently hanging in the unvisited library, and finally working with Parish Council to start home delivery service for library books to most vulnerable people in our community who already being supported by PC volunteers.

Jesmond Library

The library is setting up a collection and a home delivery service to allow people to have access to books/resources. The service will be publicised on their website:; facebook page and through posters at strategic sites in Jesmond. They are developing procedures for new memberships, home deliveries and collection of books.

Repair Cafe

Collaboration between library and Harbury Energy Initiative.

Seed Share Initiative

A collaboration between community library and primary school gardening club ( This has been incredibly successful.

Thank you for your time and we will stay connected.