National Lockdown Guidance

Hope you all had a good rest during the holidays. Happy New Year.

Following the PM’s speech, national guidance was published shortly afterwards: NationalLockdownGuidance.pdf (

“Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services” Page 19.

One of the major announcements also was the closure of schools alongside a change to the shielding arrangements. Important for CMLs to note the latter in particular as this could have some implications for volunteers – particularly those considered clinically extremely vulnerable and who are advised to shield by their GPs/NHS.

Stay safe and will continue to share updates when they become available.

One more piece for Christmas!

Thank you and Seasons Greetings

Massive thanks to all CMLs for all the exceptional work you do in your communities. We also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support. Best wishes for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year to all.

Short Survey and Monthly Virtual Network Meetings – January 2021

Following on from the Lockdown 1 survey, we would be grateful if you could complete the CML Covid-19 follow up survey to help us understand the ongoing effect of the pandemic on CMLs. It should take you between 5-10 minutes to complete. The link will be live until 7th of January 2021.

Insights from the survey will inform discussions with government policy leads, we will also share outcomes at our monthly virtual network meetings which start on 7th January from 10.30am You can book a place HERE

Digital Skills for Libraries

Please read on for this interesting piece from Chris Clarke, Friends of Jesmond Library.

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity & culture. If that makes you think of Covent Garden and the Tate Gallery, you may not realise that the Council’s wide remit includes public libraries, and in particular, as part of that remit, community managed libraries!

One of the specific initiatives of the Arts Council is the establishment of the Digital Culture Network. This has really come to the fore during the COVID pandemic, not only helping arts organisations with their online marketing and communications activities, but also supporting the development of programmes of online concerts, plays, art exhibitions and staff training.

Now, in a new initiative, the Digital Culture Network has established a programme of “Digital Skills for Libraries” activities, including a series of webinars which will look at key tools and strategies to support library organisations who have taken some of their activities online or are engaging with their communities digitally whilst their buildings are closed, or access is restricted. And one lesson that many libraries have learned over the last few months is that there is likely to be a continuing demand for online activities, even when library buildings are fully open again.

All these webinars are open to volunteers at community libraries, as well as to staff in local authority libraries. And all the webinars organised so far are free, and are recorded so that all the presentations, discussion and follow up materials can be accessed after the event, through the Digital Culture Network website.

I joined the first webinar, on Creating and Delivering Digital Content, held early in December, which included useful tips on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, suggestions for extra bits of kit which might help make your online events more professional, tips on free video editing platforms, and using YouTube. It was interesting for a volunteer, such as myself, to be in a group with a wide variety of local authority librarians, particularly in the discussion, questions and answers.

There will be further free webinars specifically for libraries, in the New Year, but some community libraries may also be interested in some of the Network’s more general webinars, such as one on “How to make your content accessible” on 12 January at 2pm, or “Getting started with live streaming” on 27 January.

Much of the work of the Digital Culture Network is carried out by its network of nine Tech Champions, who each have their own areas of expertise, as well as being physically located in different bases all over England. All the Tech Champions are available to provide specialist one-to-one diagnostic conversations. The network’s website states that this is only available to people who “work for an arts and cultural organisation”, but it has been confirmed that this includes volunteers in a community managed library.

There is much more information on the website and knowledge hub . This includes information on the full events programme . Another useful start, accessed through the website, is to sign up for the Digital Culture Network’s newsletter.

See you all in 2021

Short Updates and Network Meetings from January 2021

We hope you are all well and safe.

Network Meetings from January 2021

From 7th January 2021 we will be hosting monthly facilitated virtual network meetings to share our experiences and learning; challenges and issues and get support from peers. There will be break-out rooms to focus on specific topics, live local or national issues. Together we hope to learn from each other, get encouragement and support from our peers.

The monthly meetings will also give us the opportunity to collate learning from CMLs to inform discussions or decisions at national level. From time to time, and based on need, speakers will be invited to join the Network meetings.

Please sign up HERE

Celebrating CMLs

Have you had any letters of appreciation  for your  work during these Covid times? Can you share any from local MPs , local councillors etc, members of the public? Particularly if they demonstrate how vital you were to their well-being/mental health. If you do, then please email

Short Survey

Following on from the survey we did over the summer, we have pulled together a very short survey to assess the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on CMLs. We hope to share the information at national level. The link will be available online tomorrow and hope you will help us by completing the survey.

Libraries are vital community hubs with so much to offer

Burley Library Article

You may be interested in this article about Burley Library which was published in the People’s Friend Summer Special in June 2020.

New £4m Fund to Help Reduce Loneliness in England Opens 5 January

Funded by the Government and the National Lottery Community Fund, the new £4 million Local Connections Fund is intended for small constituted voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations with an annual income of £50,000 or less.

There will be two funding rounds, with a total of £2 million available for each round. Grants of between £300 and £2,500 are to be used to:

  • Build relationships in and across communities to help reduce loneliness and build connections between people and communities
  • Bring together organisations who are working on social connections to celebrate their work, share learning and best practice, and form/bring together peer networks.

This is to help make:

  • People and communities feel more connected.
  • Individuals feel supported and less lonely or isolated.
  • People more aware of services available that help them to connect with others and get involved.
  • Organisations learn from each other.

The grants can be used for a number of different things including staff salaries, volunteer expenses, management costs, overheads, small-scale equipment and small-scale venue improvements. Applications will be accepted from constituted VCSE organisations that serve communities within England. There will be two funding rounds, one in January 2021 and one in summer 2021.

Applications open on 5 January 2021 and close on 26 January 2021. Read on….Community groups tackling loneliness to benefit from £4m fund – GOV.UK (

Stay safe.

Government Guidance on Local Restriction Tiers – What you need to know.

I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

A very short update this time, on the guidance for local restriction tiers. Please see link below.

Please note the early section which refers to all tiers, as follows:

In all tiers, the following businesses and venues can remain open:

  • public buildings, such as libraries, community centres and halls. They should not host events for private hire, such as birthday parties or most other social activities in tier 3

A good weekend to you all.

Coronavirus: New business grant schemes explained

I hope you are all well and safe.

Following the introduction of more restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 in October and November, the UK Government announced four new grant schemes for businesses in England. Guidance on eligibility and grant rates for these schemes was published on 3 November 2020.

Like the business support grants made available in England between March and August 2020, these grant schemes are funded by Government and operated by local authorities. Eligibility for the first three grants is based on the business rates system and the ‘tier’ system of local restrictions. Eligibility for the Additional Restrictions Grant is at the discretion of local authorities.

The schemes

The new grant schemes are

  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open)
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector)
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed), which also features an ‘addendum’ following the reimposition of England-wide restrictions as of 5 November 2000
  • Additional Restrictions Grant

Further explanation about the new schemes can be found here:

Thank you.

National Restrictions Guidance: How they apply to Libraries

National restrictions begin in England today – 5 November 2020. To find out about the restrictions and what you can or cannot do visit:

Under the restrictions, library services must close their buildings for general public access but are allowed to operate these services:

  • Home Library Service (doorstep delivery, no-contact service)
  • School Library Service (doorstep delivery, no-contact service)
  • Order & Collect services (may take place inside the library, as close to the entrance as possible)
  • Access to PCs for essential purposes
  • Digital and remote services including eLending, online events and activities and keep in touch calls
  • Digital access to public services, including the UKVI visa application service.

These services must be managed in COVID secure ways and subject to full risk assessment as set out in the updated Services Recovery Toolkit from Libraries Connected, available HERE. The Service Recovery Toolkit has been prepared in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Updated 05.11.20.

Visit Libraries Connected Website for other very useful information and resources.

Thank you.

Harbury Village Library Lockdown Art Exhibition

I hope you are all well and safe.

Following on from our recent publication ‘Community Managed Libraries as Community Hubs’, Harbury Village Library participated in a project during the summer to produce a book documenting the experiences of Harbury residents during the first lockdown.

Harbury Village Library was so inspired they run a parallel project documenting the lockdown experiences of local residents in poetry and prose. They invited local artists to create a piece of work reflecting their own experiences of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Any age, any medium, any level of accomplishment. The only requirement was that the artist had to be a resident of the village. 

Submissions were accepted until the end of October and the works hung on the wall of the library. In order to make sure they could still be seen even when the library was in lockdown a selection of the works is displayed in their online gallery. A few of the works are available for sale and, if they sell, the library gets a percentage!

To find out more about each of the artists and their submissions visit:

To learn more about what they did you can contact Richard Fowler @ Harbury Village Library:

Stay safe.

Top 5 spine-tingling tales from the UK

Hope you are all safe and well.

GREAT would like support for their Halloween blog on spooky books.

The Twitter account to watch is  @GREATBritain.

Interesting blog can be found here:  

It explores the writers, characters, and locations linked to some of the UK’s most chilling literary works – and might be a way for library services to use as a springboard to link into any more local Halloween literary promotions you are undertaking. 

Thanks and a good weekend to all.

New report shows Community Managed Libraries evolving into Community Hubs

Local libraries to play important role in post Covid recovery says MP

A report launched today by the Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network shows how Community Managed Libraries are already stepping up to a challenge set out in a recent government paper.

As the report makes clear, Community Managed Libraries exist in a wide range of communities – urban and rural, affluent and deprived – and operate using many different business models. One thing they share, however, is a close understanding of the community in which they are located. 

The report is generously supported by independent trust Power to Change.

Drawing on the experiences of Community Managed Libraries in Lewisham, Earlsdon, Fallowfield, Greenhill, Harbury, Jesmond, and Upper Norwood, the report identifies a range of traditional and innovative services being offered, including:

Reading and Writing groups; Rhyme Time sessions, Homework and Breakfast Clubs, activities for children with disabilities; ESOL; Art Exhibitions, Music Concerts, Theatre Performances; Health and Wellbeing, dementia groups, mindfulness sessions; Lifelong learning, local history, U3A groups; Police and Local Council drop-in surgeries; Digital literacy; Careers, welfare and employability sessions; benefits advice, housing and blue badge applications; a Hedgehog Food Bank; charging points for a community electric car club; 2nd hand book store and sales of works by local authors and artists.

In his report to the Prime Minister “Levelling up our communities” MP Danny Kruger says, 

“The local Library is or should be a crucial element of the social model we need to create, or re-create ….. Increasingly they serve as digital hubs and information centres for communities, and places for classes and sessions of all kinds.”

“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”

“Government should make a major commitment to support the local library as the hub of the 21st century community.” 

David Smith, Chair of the CMPNLN said,

“CMLs have more and more been operating as Community Hubs and during the COVID-19 crisis have been important in helping maintain the health and well-being of their area. 

Groups of volunteers running these libraries recognise the challenges and are eager to play a role in the recovery and regeneration of their communities. Providing access to digital resources for young people seeking the skills to move into employment, encouraging and supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, working with medical and public health professionals to ensure that the community has access to the information it needs, and promoting the efforts of their local creative community. 

Support from government for the creation of all libraries as hubs of the 21st century community is critical, but must recognise that the people running these organisations have a deep understanding of the needs of their community and which approaches are most likely to work for them. The work of the last ten years has created a blueprint for the Community Hub of the future, but there will be no one size fits all solution.”

Note for Editors

  1. The Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with its base at the Upper Norwood . It is run by volunteers for the volunteers in CMLs.
  2. Its website is             
  3. For further information contact David Smith (07710975682) Peter Rankin (07580834683)  Richard Fowler (07703 384 898), email or for particular local information contact the Case Study Libraries listed in the annexe.
  4. About Power to Change
    Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector owns assets worth £890m and comprises 9,000 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people. (Source: Community Business Market 2019).

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.  @peoplesbiz

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people. 

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

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.