“Major Boost for Voluntary Network of Community Managed Libraries”

Community Managed Libraries (CMLs) in England and Wales which provide free public library services complementary to those directly provided by Local Authorities start a new chapter next month with the appointment of a fulltime network Manager.

Chris Neath, Library Hub Manager, at the Upper Norwood Library Hub since June 2017 will take up his post in July. A Graduate of the University of Essex, Chris previously worked for Kent County Council. He will be joined in the next few months by two part-time regional co-ordinators funded by the National Lottery as part of the “Growing Great Ideas “initiative, initially for 3 years.

Chris said, “This is a great opportunity to develop and build on the fantastic work done by CMLs tailored to the needs and interests of their local communities. There are many great examples to be shared. The strength of the Network is that each CML is rooted in its community”

The Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network (CMLNPN) now a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) has been running on a voluntary basis since its embryonic beginnings in 2016 providing advice, guidance and support to over 425 CMLs in England and Wales. It has worked particularly closely with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Libraries Connected in keeping services running as much as possible during the time of the Pandemic.

Chair of CMLNPN, David Smith, MBE said, “This is a tremendous step forward. It is a tribute to the dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers who have not only kept libraries in their communities when threatened with closure but have developed innovative ways of maintaining and sustaining them”