Bath & North East Somertset Council

Community Library investment

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Bath & North East Somerset Council has announced plans for a new approach for the delivery of community run library services across the area. The Council’s intention is to provide upfront investment advice and professional support for these community libraries, and to work with local communities to identify the best way to develop this concept to ensure it meets local needs. The proposals aim to build on existing successful community library projects in the B&NES area and developing new provision, where volunteers run their own services which are tailored to their community’s needs.  

The plans form part of an ‘invest to save’ project by the Council,  with a proposed upfront investment of £275,000 to bring better more community-focused libraries to many areas that currently have difficulty accessing library services.

As part of these plans, the Council will also be looking to work with local communities and parish councils to move existing branch libraries onto a community led model.  Supporting local communities to develop their own approach to community libraries makes this service more sustainable in the longer term and gives local people more say over how they are run and what is on offer. This approach will help to secure the future of local library services whilst at the same time delivering the longer-term savings that the Council need to make.

In addition to the upfront investment, the Council will continue to provide ongoing support to those running their community run library. These  innovative solutions can help keep our libraries open, and even expand them into new locations and new audiences.

In addition readers will still be able to order books directly from LibrariesWest and the Council will ensure that books ordered in this way could be delivered to each venue to be collected by the customer at their convenience.

The three main libraries in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton will continue to be run separately from this initiative and managed by the Council.

As part of the £275,000 investment the Council will be setting aside a startup fund of £5,000 per scheme to assist with the development of community libraries, providing books from its central stock and will also be supporting interested groups with a package of bespoke training and access to a wide range of targeted community services delivered by the Council.  Under this scheme local community groups would be responsible for the running costs, staff and managing the volunteers.

Public meetings have already been held across the area and various community groups and Parish Councils have expressed interest in being considered. Further meetings will be held at the area forums in November 2017 to explain how this scheme can work in areas that have yet to express an interest.

How to apply

The Application Pack for organisations interested in running a Community Library are available to download on the right of this page.  The document includes stage 1 expression of interest form and stage 2 full application form.  These can also be downloaded as separate documents.

The Council has prepared a series of guides to assist organisations in setting up a Community Run Library.   These include, ‘A guide to:-

  • setting up a community organisation;
  • IT guidance and standards;
  • recruiting and managing volunteers; 
  • writing a business plan.

Also attached are the following templates:-

  • Income and Expenditure template (added 10.5.18)
  • Data Protection Agreement and Acceptable Use Statement (added 10.5.18)
  • Final Agreement (added 31.7.18)

Other information

  • Donation Stock Policy (added 31.7.18)
  • Community Library Volunteer Training Programmes (added 30.8.18)

View these documents in the 'Document' section located on the right-hand side of this page.  Please note the income and expenditure template from the 'guide to writing a business plan' is available as a pdf from this website or if you require a copy of the excel sheet please email:

Expressions of Interest received

  • The Library at Chew Valley School
  • The Link at Bishop Sutton
  • Moorland Road, Bath
  • The Hub at Paulton
  • St Johns Community Centre, Peasedown St John
  • Saltford Community Library, Saltford
  • Southside Hub, Bath
  • Timsbury Community Library, at the YMCA building in Timsbury
  • Weston Community Library, Weston, Bath

Full Applications approved

Find out more:

Some useful guides and sources of information are available via the following websites:-

Voluntary Sector Support

Funding Bulletin 

Community Libraries Locality

Frequently Asked Questions

Cabinet Meeting, Modern Libraries Approach

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