Libraries as the Hub of the 21st Century Community

Greetings to all, and hope you are well. A few interesting updates to share:

Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant, a report by Danny Kruger MBE

In July the Prime Minister asked Danny Kruger MBE for proposals to sustain the community spirit we all saw during the lockdown. The report was published yesterday, 24 September 2020, with a generous response by the Prime Minister, including a commitment to engage the voluntary sector – which now includes many new volunteers and organisations that didn’t exist before Covid-19 – in a conversation about how to take forward this agenda.

Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant sets out a vision for a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods. 

The report is warm about libraries and you may be interested in some of the comments about libraries and the reference to community-managed libraries:

“The fact that the library is an historic institution, a repository of the memories of a local place and traditionally a window on knowledge and a doorway to opportunity for people from ordinary backgrounds, fits it even more for its role at the heart of communities in the 21st century.  Many council-run library services are increasingly engaging with communities in designing their services. And where local authorities struggle to maintain local libraries, communities are stepping up to take over and run them. 20% of libraries are now community-managed, and more could be. Government should make a major commitment to support the local library as the hub of the 21st century community”

One of his summary recommendations include

“A new focus on the modern local library, often community-managed, delivering business start-up support and digital inclusion for local communities”

The report can be downloaded here:

Online Learning opportunities

We still have spaces on the three online sessions we published recent. Follow the links below to book your place:-

4 November 2020: Fundraising and Income Generation

11 November 2020: Marketing and Communication

18 November 2020: Making an Impact

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

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Promoting some Shared Learning Events

All, I hope you are all well and safe.

We have three online learning events to share with colleagues. We have 12 places available on each session, kindly use the links provided to book a place. Please note that we will be organising further learning sessions in the coming months, including small networking opportunities with peers.

The courses below have been made possible by the Archibald Corbett Community library as part of their local Public Space Management course.

Fundraising and income Generation:

In this current climate we have to re-think how we run, develop and sustain our libraries. Consideration for new or different income sources is a must. You will hear from the Arts council, from your peers and you will learn about fundraising and income generation strategies they use: Please follow this link for more information including details of how to book:

Marketing and Communication:

Led by Sam Brown, who has a long history of working with start-ups and local organisations helping them establish their purpose, corresponding programmes and communication strategies. You will take away strategies for marketing and communication and will have the opportunity to learn from and share your experiences with peers. Please follow the link below to book your place:

Making an Impact:

:Social impact is the positive change that your organisation has created over a period of time. These changes may be social, financial , environmental or other. Community groups and CMLs need to put positive social impact at the heart of everything and be able to identify, capture and communicate the impact of their activities. To book a place please follow this link:

Thank you.

We are Back

I hope everyone is safe and well, also hope you had a good summer break.

We have a few updates for colleagues and hope you find them interesting and useful.

Re-opening Case Study from Charmouth Community Library

Charmouth Community Library in Dorset opened on 20 July 2020. The attached case study share their experiences and some of the lessons learnt since they reopened.

We also have a short reopening update from Greenhill Community Library in Sheffield, see below:

Greenhill Community Library recently organised a Scarecrow Festival which ran through the first half of August. People were asked to make a character from a book and most of the 33 entries complied. Voting (via an on-line form) drew 250 responses with those characters with appeal to young children, notably “Where’s Wally” and “Peppa Pig” being favourites. Organiser Chris Brown commented “It was great to see so many young families out and about, clutching their scarecrow locator maps, and being excited by each new discovery. There seems to be quite an appetite for something different, outdoor, and socially distanced to do after the confines of lockdown and on-screen entertainment.” The library has also organised a “story walk” (with a child’s book distributed page-by-page on storyboards throughout the village) and a couple of storytelling sessions on the library’s large front lawn. You can find lots of pictures on their web site at

The National Rural Touring Forum October 2020 Conference

Please see the below for some info on a conference from the National Rural Touring Forum. This e-conference is dedicated to libraries and rural touring (13th October) and may be of interest to CMLs in rural locations. Visit the NRTF WEBSITE for further information.

Shared Learning and Networking Events

We will be publicising a full list of networking and learning events for the remainder of the calender year after 25th of September 2020.

In the meantime, please note 3 learning events coming up soon, these are part of Archibald Corbett Community Library’s Public Space Management course now open to CMLs. The dates will be available on Eventbrite on Friday 18th.

4th November              Fundraising and Income Generation (supported by Sean from the Arts Council)

11 November              Marketing and Communication          Sam Brown

18 November             Making an Impact                               Sam Brown

Take care all.

A Couple of Quick Updates

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) Survey

DCMS invites you to take part in a second round of a survey being conducted to understand the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on organisations in the digital, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms, and tourism sectors.

This survey has been commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to better understand the needs of its stakeholders. Your answer will remain anonymous and will be used to inform DCMS’ preparedness efforts.

We encourage organisations in the digital, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms, and tourism sectors to respond. The survey should take around 10-20 minutes. The deadline for responses to the survey will be at 23:59 GMT on 08/09/2020. Please follow the link below to begin submitting your response:
DCMS Coronavirus Impact Business Survey – Round 2 

Teachers’ Reading Challenge Website Launches

An initiative created by The Reading Agency in partnership with The Open

This initiative is the first teachers’ reading challenge of its kind, utilising research and resources from the OU’s Reading for Pleasure programme and The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Teachers can sign up to take part:

Thank you.

What Re-opening looks like in some CMLs and a call for Volunteers

I hope everyone is safe and well. Today we share re-opening plans in some CMLs, we also have a call for Volunteers and finally an update on the virtual Learning and Support Sessions.

Re-opening – a picture of services in some CMLs

Some CMLs are starting re-open and we want to share with you a picture of the services that are being provided by a few. Email us at to share your re-opening plans/learning since you re-opened your doors.


Burley in Wharfedale Community Managed Library reopened on Tuesday 21 July and will be open for order and collect/returns/home delivery service only. There will be no access to the main building of the library for browsing or computer use. There will be a single pick-up/returns point in the foyer. Opening hours now reduced from what they had prior to Covid-19, they are:- Tuesdays 2 pm to 5 pm; Fridays 2 pm to 5 pm; Saturdays 10 am to 1 pm. Check out their Facebook for more information: Burley in Wharfedale CML Facebook

Harbury Village Library

Harbury Village Community Library managed to reopen its library w/c 13th July with a very diminished offer. Warwickshire County Libraries have only opened 4 of the main libraries so far, and only for a click and collect service. At Harbury we have moved large quantities of books so that we now have a single aisle containing our own collection books (purchased or donated) to which we are allowing access one person (or family group) at a time. The fact we work in the original Victorian village school has made reconfiguration quite a challenge.

We continue to operate our Home Delivery, Click and Collect and book takeaway services and hope to provide Ready Read packs to support the Summer Reading Challenge. As Hank Williams used to say, “If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise”, we’ll be able to provide access to one of our Public Access Computers this week. The library cafe is now offering takeaway coffee and cakes from the kitchen door twice a week!

Garden Suburb Community Library – Hampstead London continues to run its really successful click and collect service. As the building is really too small to be able to manage social distancing easily., they are looking to re-open in October at the earliest.

Courteous and respectful

Friends of Jesmond Library – Newcastle will re-open in two stages on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for two hours each day, 2-4pm at first. From August 4, only the current click and collect service and the People’s Network computers will be available with computer use limited to 50 minute sessions. From August 18 book loans and returns will also be available as well as click and collect which will continue for users who prefer it. We will be asking users to wear face coverings in the library and numbers entering will be restricted.

The Archibald Corbett Community Library – Catford London:

Phase 1 – Monday 6th July: Digital offer continues. Click and collect service, Lucky dip pre-selected bundles, Crate at the door to collect returned books. Set up table within foyer area so people only just step inside the building, 1 person at a time to complete their transaction. Door marshal to control access. 2-3 volunteers per shift – plus at least 1 manager to collate books prior to collection. Input discharges on system. Customers to queue outside with 2m markings. Use hand sanitiser on arrival at door Customer to read aloud card number. No exchange of books, cards, anything

Phase 2 – Monday 3rd August: Continue to offer click & collect and Lucky Dip. Add PC Use, Min. 30 mins to 2 hour max. slots, Quick browsing of limited selection – in Dome area only. See below for the opening times:

  • Monday          11:00 to 12:00                      over 70s, people with disabilities
  • Monday          14:00 to 16:00                      all
  • Tues or Thur 11:00 to 12:00                      over 70’s, people with disabilities
  • Thurs              14:00-16:00                          all

A call for volunteers

A number of members have expressed concern that their re-opening plans for a full service may be affected because many of their volunteers are over 70, having to self-isolate or are shielding and may not come back. The Network has linked up with VCS Emergency Partnership to discuss the possibility of VCS providing volunteers to Community Managed Libraries around the country to help them move from a restricted service to providing a full service with regular opening hours.

VSE has asked us to provide a snapshot of numbers, areas and timescale for where there could be a need for them to assess what they might be able to provide.

If your library looks like it will need to recruit new volunteers please email us at latest by Monday 10 August with the name and address of your library, the number of volunteers you might need, how many hours a week they will be needed and when you would want them to start by month.


A massive thanks to members who joined the Learning and Support Sessions between April and July making it really successful. From some of the feedback shared by colleagues most people valued the peer advice and support during these difficult times; for a few it was a lifeline, others felt informed and took away some ideas/information from Libraries Connected, DCMS and Arts Council to inform recovery plans and activities.

I am particularly grateful for your ideas and suggestions for how to improve future sessions.  We are now taking a summer break, resuming in September, new dates to be announced soon.

Have an enjoyable Summer Break and Stay Safe.

A New Guide to Help Libraries Re-open and More

Libraries Toolkit

Libraries Connected published its toolkit to help libraries to reopen in July and to reintroduce their services gradually, in line with the latest public health advice. The safety and health of staff, volunteers and users are at the forefront, and the toolkit was developed in partnership with heads of library services and their teams. The set of resources will support their planning for service recovery as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted: For more information please select this link: Library Recovery Toolkit

Did you see this article in the Guardian about the re-opening of Libraries?

Thought you might be interested in this link to an article on the re-opening of Libraries in the Guardian featuring the Corbett Community Library: Select to find out more: Guardian Article

An example of how Dorset Library Services is working with local CMLs

Wool Community Library, Dorset

A massive thanks to Tracey McGregor, the Dorset Head of Library Service for sharing the following: Recovery planning, Risk Assessment to support staff return to sites and service offers and Individual Specific Risk Assessment Template. Tracey has been working closely with local CMLs to inform and go forward together. We hope you find them useful.

A Case Study from Jesmond Library in Newcastle

Chris Clarke and colleagues from Jesmond shared a case study about their journey as a CML and some useful lessons we can learn from their experiences, thanks to everyone involved.

Stay safe.

Funding Opportunity – The Art Fund

Art Fund Launches Respond and Reimagine Grants

The Art Fund is providing Respond and Reimagine grants to help museums, galleries and cultural organisations respond to immediate challenges connected to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, and offer support to adapt and reimagine ways of working for the longer-term future.

These grants can provide practical support to fund what applicants need now. If an organisation is experiencing an immediate crisis with no alternative sources of funding, The Art Fund can consider offering emergency support to help organisations manage during this difficult period.

Applicants are encouraged to let The Art Fund know what support will be most helpful, such as costs connected to re-opening: Staffing Equipment Training Planning for future activities. All public museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives in the UK are eligible to apply. Organisations that are a visual arts agency or festival are eligible to apply providing they can meet the above criteria and have a strong visual arts focus. Grants from £10,000 to £50,000 are available. The Art Fund will consider offering 100% funding.

Next Deadline is 6 July 2020: Click HERE to find out more.

Thank you.


Hello everyone. We hope you are all safe and well.

The Network has been very busy recently: contributing to discussions at national level where we champion the voices/needs of CMLs; running bi-monthly virtual learning sessions; developing a CML database; undertaking research into CMLs which operate as Community Hubs with support from Power to Change; building our website and forum which has just been completed and ready to be populated; creating opportunities for CMLs to share their experiences with others and much more.

Over the next few weeks and coming months we will focus on renewal or recovery, sharing experiences of CMLs as they re-open their doors and services.

What is in today’s Article?

  1. Dates for the July virtual learning sessions focused on Renewal/Recovery planning
  2. A Case study about Garden Surburb Community Library’s Click and Collect Service; an interesting initiative from Archibald Corbett Community Library and a digital skills training case study from ClearCommunityWeb based in South London. Do you have an interesting story/learning to share with other CMLs? Please email us at info@communitylibrariesnetwork.
  3. Resources and Toolkits:
    • Twine Benchmark
    • Digital Boost
    • Digital Skills Training – A Case Study from ClearCommunityWeb in South London

Dates for the June and July 2020 Virtual Learning Sessions – Renewal and Recovery

Click the relevant date to join a session of your choice – we have spaces for 9 more people on the 9th of July. Once you confirm your place, we will send you an email with a Zoom link to join the session on the day.

Please note that the team will take a break from August, so the virtual learning and support sessions will resume in September 2020.

CASE STUDY: Garden Suburb Community Library’s Click and Collect Service

Like all libraries Garden Suburb Community Library made the decision to close on the 17th March, find out what they did and lessons learnt from their Click and Collect scheme.

garden-suburb-case-study-3 Download

CASE STUDY: Digital Skills Training in South East London

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis ClearCommunityWeb in partnership with Upper Norwood Library Hub has helped over 100 people
stay connected online, many of whom are vulnerable or working with
vulnerable groups. Read the case study to learn more.

An Interesting Initiative by Archibald Corbett Library

The ‘Doorstep Chat’:  Throughout June & July they are offering a ‘Doorstep Chat service’ for customers that are shielding and fancy a chat! You can book a 30minute slot and a volunteer will come to the outside of your house and sit either in your front garden (if you have one) or on your front wall and chat with you. You can also use this opportunity to place book orders if you are a library member.

Plus the online support services starting form Monday 8th June  where you book a slot with a colleague from the Online Support Services. He can help you complete any online forms you may be struggling with. This will be done at a table in their courtyard out the back of the library so social distancing measures can be put in place.


Twine Benchmark: you can learn more about the financial health of your CML using Power to Change”s Twine Benchmark. To find out more please click HERE to access their webinar.

Boost your digital business skills: Digital Boost launches today, the platform is founded by Founders4Schools and BCG Digital Ventures, with support from DCMS. It offers free digital advice for small businesses and charities impacted by coronavirus, provided by expert volunteers, helping them to improve their digital capability to grow and prosper. You can download the media pack below:

Thank you all and stay safe.

New Dates for the Virtual Support Sessions and General Updates

Hello everyone. As always, I hope you are keeping well and safe. Many thanks to all who contributed to the DCMS and Arts Council surveys. We hope to share updates from the surveys when they become available.

Today’s edition covers

  • Future dates for the Virtual Learning and Support Sessions
  • Free Webinar from the Arts Council’s Digital Culture Network
  • General Updates and links to useful resources

Virtual Learning and Support Sessions – A focus on Recovery

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_62052618_207977903246_1_originalThese sessions have been very well received and fast becoming a useful vehicle for CMLs to receive and share updates/ideas, ask questions, discuss their concerns and challenges and support each other.

With libraries set to be open in the third phase of the government’s “COVID-19 recovery strategy”, and July 4 earmarked as the earliest date for this to happen, the virtual learning sessions will now focus on RECOVERY.   To book a place at these sessions simply click the date you wish to attend and follow the instructions. We will send you a ZOOM link to join the session when you register.


In advance of these sessions you may wish to read this interesting blog from Libraries Connected:  Safety first: The recovery of Library Services.  You may also want to look at BEIS guidance on safe operation of various workplaces – on GOV.UK here

Also, to note that Libraries Connected are developing general libraries guidance for restoring services that will have input from Public Health England.  The Peer Network will be sitting on the ministerial group that will work through and agree it and will update you in due course.

The Arts Council’s Digital Culture Network

The Arts Council’s Digital Culture Network is offering a free webinar session on 3rd June looking at online safety.  The session has been designed to help arts and cultural organisations intending to work with young people online create robust safeguarding policies and procedures as well as raise awareness of good practice in online safety.  For more information please see the following link:

General Updates and Useful Links

At the last virtual learning and suppGarden Suburb_001ort session, colleagues raised questions on recovery plans, volunteering, books, computers and board games and safety.  Below we have shared some helpful feedback on these topics from Sue @ Libraries Connected who is also a CML Peer Network trustee.


Recovery  may take the following phases:

  • Phase 1: Concentration on opening libraries for basic services with a focus on Continuation and development of digital events and activities
  • Phase 2: Very limited group activities in libraries with strict social distancing and maintaining a vibrant online programme
  • – this was published by the government a couple of days ago and gives an opening date for libraries of 4th July as part of a step 3 process – but very much baby steps.

In terms of questions raised around books, computers and board games:

  • Re books – they need to be quarantined for 3 days. There is a real debate about how we do that – PPE etc etc – but I think given the conversations running about gloves and the risk of contamination each CML may need to decide what to do – but bottom line is you need to keep washing your hand.
  • Computers – the protocols are still being worked on, but you may wish to start out by blocking out every other computer to maintain social distancing and mice/keyboard/chair/desk/terminal will have to be cleaned after each session, and  decide on how long each session should be to cut down dwell time. Plus to start with you may wish to do click and collect and even when people start coming into the building – seats will be taped off, soft toys etc put away, etc to keep social distancing and stopping people spending too much time in the building. So at the moment I am buying Perspex screens, floor space markers, thinking about space marshals inside/outside library like supermarkets (Perspex screens – you can buy ones that are not fixed plus signage– Terry Knight at Atlas UK Ltd ( on LinkedIn is doing that)
  • Board Games etc – the issue is about how do you manage social distancing with games etc and how do you avoid contamination – you could lend them out and then treat them like books? We are doing crafts etc on YouTube (my staff are filming themselves on their camera phones and it looks ok) – and keeping/building my audience so when it is safe for them to come back and do that in the library we have not lost them. So I am still thinking about Phase 2 activities and how to do that safely.

We will discuss Volunteering at our Virtual Sessions, and insights from colleagues will be shared here.

Please continue to visit announcements and updates. Visit our website for information/resources: CML National Peer Network website and continue to visit the Arts Council website for a wide range of updates and resources.

Thank you all and stay safe.

Quick Updates – New Business Rates Discretionary Fund and some case studies from CMLs during the Lockdown

Morning colleagues. I trust you are all well. A few quick updates, and hope you find them useful.

New Business Rates Discretionary Fund

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.  To find out more please select link to the announcement made over the weekend. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities and the fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs and small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief are to be prioritised.

Whats happening in some CMLs during the Lockdown? Book Ordering/Collection, Home Deliveries and Online activities

Five (5) case studies from Garden Suburb Community Library, Corbett Library, Harbury Village Library,  Upper Norwood Library Hub and Jesmond Library

  • Garden Suburb Community Library in London are now offering a book ordering / collection scheme to their readers. Click HERE to learn about the scheme.
  • Harbury Village Library also started a Home Delivery Service. People select books from the online catalogue of their own collection of books (c. 4000 items). Volunteers then prepare and deliver the books. Extensive precautions are taken (see website for details). They are only serving a small, compact, rural village with virtually no homes of multiple occupancy.  There is also the Takeaway Shelf:  Harbury receive many donations of books, some they have already and some they don’t want to add to their collection. In normal times these books are put out on Takeaway Shelves in the library foyer. Since last Monday a selection of these books has been put on a wheeled shelf which is placed outside the library from 10 am to 12 noon. Volunteers ensure social distancing recommendations are followed. For more information: Website: Blue Label Books – Harbury Village Library  Facebook: Harbury Village Library & Biblio’s Cafe

Thank you.