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!”



More Funding Opportunities

Get ready for the Bright Ideas Fund!

Do you have a bright idea for a community business? Need a bit of help developing it and making it a reality? Then this is the fund for you.

The Bright Ideas 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 fund reopens on Wednesday 26 February and will be open until Tuesday 7 April. Get a headstart on your application by using the template and questions in the Bright Ideas Fund Guidance notes to get prepared:

Cultural Impact Development Fund

A £3.7 million fund providing small-scale repayable finance to socially-driven arts, cultural and creative organisations:

Funding Opportunities which may be of Interest

  1. Aviva Community Fund open for applications for 2020 round (apply by 11 February 2020)

The Aviva Community Fund, set up by insurer Aviva, has announced its criteria and funding pot for 2020.   Small charities are invited to bid for a maximum of £50,000 each and funding will total £1m throughout the year. They will be expected to use this funding to “drive long-term sustainable success” and “make a life-changing impact”.

Alongside this funding, they have announced that they will provide digital and data support for charities through its digital Knowledge Library.   Applications are open until 11 February 2020. You can find out more and apply here

  1. UnLtd Thrive Accelerator fund (apply by 31 January 2020)

UnLtd has announced a new Thrive Accelearator fund help ambitious social ventures to grow. The fund will support 25 social ventures each year in two areas:

  • Improving access to employment for those distant from the labour market
  • Developing products and services for an ageing society.

The programme combines six months of intensive support with the opportunity to secure investment of up to £50,000 for your social venture, either through UnLtd or their partners. Applications close on 31 January 2020. Find out more and apply here.

  1. Active Communities 

Local groups and organisations with great ideas to make their communities even better places to live are invited to apply for funding to turn their ideas into reality.  Active Communities is a funding programme for community groups and not-for-profit organisations, with an income of less than £350,000 a year or an average of £350,000 over two years, seeking investment of between £5,000 and £40,000 for projects lasting up to two years. We’re looking for small and local projects, genuinely designed and run by local people. By small, we mean just a small group of people on an estate, in a few streets or villages. These ideas could be based in one neighbourhood, or cover a wider area, but they must live close enough to each other to meet up regularly.

We’re also looking for great ideas from communities of interest. By this we mean a group of people who have things in common and wish to come together to address something that is important to them. These ideas could be based in one neighbourhood, or cover a wider area.

​Applying couldn’t be easier. It’s an online process with a step by step guide from start to finish. Please note that to make sure our funds are distributed equitably, sometimes we will restrict the areas that are eligible to apply. ​Using money raised by society lotteries through The Health Lottery, Active Communities is currently open in the following areas:​

  • Health Lottery South West – January 2020 – Applications are now open in parts of Cornwall, North Somerset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and will close on 12 February at 1.00pm.

Active Communities is opening soon in the following areas:

  • Health Lottery West Midlands – March 2020 – We will be opening in parts of Walsall, Dudley, East Staffordshire, Wychavon, Malvern Hills, South Staffordshire and Stratford on Avon.
  • Health Lottery North East and Cumbria – April 2020 – Specific areas to be confirmed.
  • Health Lottery Yorkshire and Humber – May 2020 – Specific areas to be confirmed.

Please note that these are our planned openings but due to the nature of how we get our funding, these openings are subject to change.    Find out more


The Network’s New Web and Blog Sites and Updates

Happy New Year!  Hope you had restful breaks.

Our New Website

We are pleased to let you know we now have a new website where we will be posting our updates from now on.

You can access it here:

The website reflects our new brand and we will be sharing our vision for the Network and our range of services over the next few months.

When you visit the new site, please use the opportunity to sign up to the Network’s Newsletter if you are not already subscribed.

Blog Site

We will maintain this site for our archived stories but all new content will be on the new website.

Please share your journey, stories, learning and resources 

We would like to feature stories, learning and resources from CMLs across the country.

We welcome case studies or blogs about your libraries, volunteers, new ventures, projects you are working on/have completed, the learning and impact. This can be very helpful to other CMLs who may be thinking of or involved in similar activities.

Similarly if you have developed any useful resources which you feel will be of benefit to other CMLs please do share them with us by emailing

Funding Opportunity

A €50,000 challenge prize funded by the *AAL Programme is looking for solutions that support, empower and inspire older adults to engage in entrepreneurship. See below for the link to this opportunity:

*AAL is a European programme funding innovation that keeps us connected, healthy, active and happy into our old age.

Thank you and wishing you an excellent 2020.

Just so you know: Ericsson are still looking for charities to support!

Ericsson, the technology and communications company, are looking to match 300 volunteers with a range of charities. The employees will offer digital, marketing, IT and HR skills to name a few. There will also be the opportunity to acquire non skilled volunteers as well as fundraising.

This is your chance to gain the voluntary work that we know many organisations such as ours are in desperate need of.  If your CML would benefit from any or all of skills based volunteers, non-skills based volunteers, or fundraising opportunities then please get in touch – for further info and details of how to apply visit their WEBSITE.

Updates: forthcoming website, funding opportunity, article and toolkit

1. New CML Website and Newsletters

The CML Peer Network is developing a new website and revamping its quarterly Newsletter. Further information will be available in December. We hope both will provide access to much needed and relevant resources and help CMLs connect for shared learning and peer support.

2. Community Trade Up Programme

The Community Business Trade Up Programme will support 80 organisations in England focused on improving their local area. It’s run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs, in partnership with Power to Change. The offer includes

  • A free learning programme, to develop income and impact
  • A Match Trading grant of up to £10,000
  • A community of supportive peers

Find out more @

You can download the guidance notes, and have a read to consider whether you would like to apply. If you have any questions, or if would like to discuss anything further contact Amy Harrison via email:

To share this opportunity via email to all your networks, the team have created a  bundle of ready-made social media posts and graphics – simply copy and paste!

3. Article on Community Asset Transfer and Taking Over Your Local museum toolkit

A new article has been published on community asset transfer which may be of interest to you. The article concentrates on museums which have been transferred. It includes a discussion of the wider political strategies of relevance to community managed museums and then moves on to reflect on the main challenges experienced by local authorities and community members during the asset transfer process.

The article is based on PhD research by Bethany Rex, who has also produced a toolkit on ‘Successfully Taking Over Your Local Museum’ (supported by Arts Council England and the Association of Independent Museums) where findings from the research are translated into practical guidance. The toolkit can be accessed via this link:

In the article, Bethany talks about her personal experience of trying to undertake research which results in positive action of benefit to the people who participated in the project. The article is published in the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage. The first 50 copies can be downloaded for free via this link:

If you wish to read the article but cannot access the free copies or would prefer to receive a PDF copy you can contact Bethany on or via Twitter @bethanyrex


Libraries Live Learning Journal

New online resources have been developed as part of the #LibrariesLive project to share the project’s learning with other libraries and the wider public library sector.

Libraries Live is a creative partnership project which took place in three libraries, led by three artists in three different communities, across Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Leicestershire.

Artists took up residency in community managed libraries and embedded creative activity in each library over 8 weeks to inspire and engage their visitors, volunteers and the wider community to explore the theme of ‘change’ in libraries and the ethos behind communities working together.

In response, artists have created new work which has toured libraries over the summer and will now form a permanent centrepiece at the heart of each community to celebrate their achievements and encourage newcomers.

To accompany the Libraries Live film made by Geoff Broadway which shows each residency in action, one of our main aims for the project was to create a learning journal to share with other community managed libraries.

The journal is mostly relevant to those wanting to run creative projects to engage more with their existing communities as well as bring in new audiences. It illustrates the path we took and what we learned along the way including case studies, artist profiles, artistic commissions, challenges and successes, top tips to take forward and finally, arts takeaway ideas to inspire further activities in library venues.

Artist Residencies & Commissions

In Staffordshire, a performance for children & families ‘Bobbi in the Blue Room’ was developed by New Vic Theatre’s education team with Glascote Library and neighbouring nursery and primary school. The performance comes from the perspective of a young child who sees change happening around them but without any explanation of why it has to happen. Following a tour over the summer, the piece is now shown on a screen in the library together with interactive resources for younger children and families to enjoy.

At Water Orton Library in Warwickshire, Michaela McMillan worked with young adults and teenagers on the themes of Change, Growth and Time for her residency. As a response, Michaela created an installation, ‘The Mother of Libraries’ which shows the maternal, female face of the library being held up and supported by the hands of the volunteers, all holding books with the names of the participants and volunteers that took part.

At Newbold Verdon Library, Leicestershire, textile artist Ruth Singer worked with adults and older people to explore their experiences of volunteering and the sense of community which working together brings. Ruth chose to work with the idea of Patterns of Making, her finished piece is a quilted book which represents community connections reflecting the way that each little act of community adds up to a much greater whole. The book is on display alongside an activity book and resources to encourage further activity and engagement.


Libraries Live Film:

Bobbi in the Blue Room:

Libraries Live Journal:

#LibrariesLive #LibrariesWeek

@StaffsLibraries @leicslibraries @warkslibraries


Libraries Live is a tri-county partnership project between Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Leicestershire County Library Services, supported by Arts Council England Lottery Fund.

Recruitment and Workforce Development Toolkit – The Arts Council

The Arts Council in partnership with The Clear Company have produced a Recruitment and Workforce Development toolkit which may be of interest or use to your library.  The toolkit aims to foster inclusive workplaces and support you in recruiting and retaining diverse talent.  Please use the link below to access the toolkit: 

The toolkit includes best practice downloadable resources, templates and guidance, such as: advertising a job and job descriptions, reasonable adjustments and Access to Work, managing employee and workplace stress, conducting board skills audits and more.

It also focuses on four  key areas

  • Boards and Leadership
  • Recruitment – Attracting
  • Recruitment – Selecting
  • Retention – Workplace Practice

If you have any resources, toolkits, policies, training opportunities of relevance to CMLs, please email us @

Thank you.





Welcome Back! Hope you all had a lovely Summer.

All, we hope you an enjoyable and restful summer break.

The team have been doing a lot behind the scenes during the summer and we have a few interesting updates to share. More will  follow over the coming weeks, including our exciting venture to connect you all online so you can share ideas and resources,  ask questions, learn from each other and continue to build a strong Network. We will also update you on proposals for our 2nd annual conference in due course.

Any queries or if you have some exciting news or stories, or wish to share some updates with us, please email

We are now a registered Charity

The Network applied for Charity status at the beginning of this year, and on 18th of July, we received formal notification from the Charity Commission that the CML Peer Network has been entered onto the Register of Charities, and our details published online:

CML Peer Business Planning Workshop

In July with support from Katie Pekacar and Richard Sved, Independent Minds, we held a business planning workshop, attended by some CML colleagues, national partners and shadow board members.  Collectively we worked together on our Theory of Change and the key elements of our business plan for the next 5 years.  The Business Plan is taking shape nicely, and will be published shortly.

Financial Strategy Workshop – 20th September 2019

On 20th of September from 11am, we will be hosting our next workshop to design the financial strategy for the CML Peer Network. The workshop will take place at the Arts Council ‘s offices in London. If you would like to contribute and help your Network shape its financial strategy, please let us know by confirming your attendance to, latest by 13th of September.  An agenda will be shared in the coming days. Please note that spaces are limited, so do let us know soon if you are able to support us.

From Chris Clarke, Friends of Jesmond Library Library-1





Chris from Friends of Jesmond Library in Newcastle – above is a photo of the lovely library, and also a CML Peer Network Shadow Board Member, represented Community Managed Libraries at this interesting conference, held in Newcastle University in July.  The topic was broad, and the university researchers who organised it deliberately aimed at bringing together viewpoints from a wide range of cultural organisations (including museums, parks, galleries, leisure centres and libraries) and from different sides of the debate.

So, from the libraries sector, speakers included Isobel Hunter from Libraries Connected, Gill Hart and Kathy Dunbar, from New Cross Learning (who had had to close their community-run library in order to attend the conference), Chris Clarke, and Tony Durcan, the senior officer at Newcastle City Council who played a key role in the transfer of Jesmond Library from the council to a volunteer-run organisation. Tony has since moved on to leading the transfer of all Newcastle’s parks to a new Trust, an initiative which is being closely followed by many in the parks sector.

Naturally, those of us involved in community-managed libraries tend to feel uniquely challenged, and it was interesting for Chris to be reminded of the similar issues arising from the closure or transfer of many council-run museums and leisure centres. In these sectors there is also considerable variety, from the mega-trusts like Greenwich Leisure, which started by taking over the running of a small group of leisure facilities in one London Borough, and moved on to operating leisure centres and pools all over the country, and is now dipping its toes into the library sector, with at the other extreme, one-site charitable trusts, such as the one which has run Jesmond Pool since 1992.

A recurring point of discussion throughout the day was the balance between paid staff and volunteers. Parks, for example, have long involved “Friends” groups in supporting dwindling parks maintenance staff. Another interesting case study was described by Richard Saward of the York Museums Trust, who now operate all the previously council-run museums in York. Clearly, professionals in all sectors have reservations (to say the least) about the principle of substituting untrained volunteers for paid, professional staff, although Isobel Hunter (Libraries Connected) agreed that volunteering could enhance a service, so long as it was not used to replace professional skills.

Apparently there has been a 242% increase in the number of volunteers working in libraries since 2008. (Presumably this includes only volunteers working in libraries which still form part of the council network, as most library authorities do not collect data for independent, community-managed libraries.)

None of the speakers really confronted the uncomfortable truth faced by many community-run libraries: that if their library was not run by volunteers, it would close completely. It is difficult to see how a closed-down library could be preferable to one run by untrained staff. And it would be good to see more research into what the statutory libraries could learn from community-run libraries, and how all types of library could work together more effectively to promote libraries as a whole.

A full conference report, and many follow-up comments, is available on a Newcastle University blog  The researchers, Rhiannon Mason, Katie Markham and Bethany Rex, would still be interested in hearing additional views on any of the points raised.


Update on the Network’s Strategic Review and Business Planning

Following on from our recent communication about plans to become self sustaining, the Network  with support from Independent Mind and 3rd Sector Mission Control is developing a business plan and a strong strategy for the future.

We have been talking to stakeholders and shadow board members and have had a great response to the survey so far. 56 people have completed it, but there is still time to have your say. We have extended the survey until 18th July. If you’d like to tell us what you value about the network and what it should focus on in future please follow this link:

Findings so far

So far we have heard:

  • Managing a community library can be lonely and isolating. Knowing that there is someone else out there who has had the same experience as you can be comforting, supporting and give you the strength to keep going when things get tough.
  • It is hard to make a CML sustainable, and keep it sustainable. Providing support and advice to support sustainability could ensure more CMLs are able to continue serving their communities and ensure the long-term future of library services in places that would not otherwise have a local service
  • CMLs are very diverse with lots of different models and needs. There is no one-size fits all answer to supporting CMLs, but there are some common issues. The Network needs to embrace the different sides of CMLs – both the library function and the community business aspect, in all the different ways they develop across the country.
  • CMLs would like more opportunities to network with each other and offer/receive peer support. A priority for the network should be developing an online peer to peer platform for different CMLs to talk to each other and offer support.

Does this match what you think? Contact or complete our survey to let us know your thoughts.

Next steps:

We are having a strategy workshop on 18th July in Upper Norwood Library Hub, 39 – 41 Westow Hill, London SE19 1TJ so that CMLs have a say in setting the future direction of the network. You can book a place at the workshop here:  We hope to see you at the workshop.

Following on from this we will be researching possible business models and putting together a business plan in August and September 2019.