A new Community Managed Libraries Peer Network

The Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network helps community managed libraries (CMLs) to run effectively and successfully by sharing ideas, learning, experiences and inspiration.

No one understands community managed libraries better than the people and communities who fought to retain their local libraries and related services their communities want and need. The Network is made up of such people! We are from the full spectrum of CMLs including independently funded to those who receive local authority support. Our primary members are trustees or people who work in community managed libraries but can also include those wishing to form a trust or community groups exploring the possibilities of CMLs.

We came into existence with support from the Upper Norwood Library Trust, Libraries Connected, Locality, the Libraries Taskforce and funding from Power to Change: the national network supporting community organisations to be strong and successful.

Our Vision

To help community managed libraries thrive in their communities.

We want community managed libraries to

  • be aware of, and able to grasp opportunities such as funding and advice
  • provide mutual support and learning
  • operate as effectively as possible, to make them sustainable in the long term

What we do

  • help community managed libraries to learn from each other, exchange information and good practice
  • collaborate to run learning and networking events
  • create and share resources of benefit to community managed libraries
  • provide a voice to raise issues that matter to community managed libraries,
  • draw on learning and good working practices from other peer networks

Please read our Theory of Change here.

Meet the Team

Chris Neath

Chris Neath

Network Manager

Chris comes from a library background with experience working in both local authority run libraries at Kent County Council as well as charitable community managed library settings. Chris spent 6 years managing the Upper Norwood Library Hub, with a focus on operational management, fundraising, project management, systems & communications and finance.

Chris has created and developed outreach programmes including cycling initiatives, fuel poverty and bereavement support, digital support, ESOL & intergenerational projects and has experience in creating and growing resilient networks.

Get in touch with Chris: chris.neath@communitylibrariesnetwork.org

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

Regional Network Co-ordinator (North & North-Midlands)

Paul has been working in the field of community development, community led regeneration and cultural programming for the past 30 years including with Liverpool Housing Action Trust, Shelter and with Liverpool Biennial working on socially engaged arts commissioning.

Paul ran the Arts Service at Lancashire County Council for 5 years and then worked as Community Empowerment Manager with Community Gateway Association in Preston, the first mutual housing association in England. Most recently Paul worked to establish Breaking Ground, the new Liverpool City Region Community-led Housing Hub set up in 2020, as a network of 36 groups looking to develop 735 community owned homes.

Get in touch with Paul: paul.kelly@communitylibrariesnetwork.org

Jane Swindall

Jane Swindall

Regional Network Co-ordinator (South West, West Midlands, East Midlands & Wales)

Jane has worked in the voluntary and community sector for over 17 years, focusing mainly on digital inclusion, partnerships, education and community development.      She has many years of experience in supporting organisations to ensure they are providing the best possible service for their community – upskilling staff and volunteers, leading on partnership development and networks, and volunteer management.    

Jane also has significant experience in supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds and abilities, to improve their knowledge of IT and employability skills, and brings her experience of delivering training to groups in person and online, allowing for the flexibility needed by our community libraries.

Get in touch with Jane: jane.swindall@communitylibrariesnetwork.org

Annual Reports