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.”