Extension proposed for community managed libraries

Published: 9 March 2021

People reading books in library

Approval would see DHAs management continue to March 2023

Derby’s ten Community Managed Libraries (CMLs) could be run by the voluntary organisation Direct Help and Advice (DHA) for a further 12 months, under plans to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 10 March.

Extending DHA’s management agreement would maintain stability and help lessen some of the impact of the COVID pandemic on services, while providing an opportunity for the voluntary organisation to build on the positive work which has resulted from having to work differently during the last year.

All libraries had to close their doors for the first lockdown. Since then, they have been able to provide services limited by Government restrictions in place at the time.

During the pandemic, the CMLs have worked to provide an online offer for their members, setting up online groups and producing videos of rhyme sessions for pre-schoolers and their parents and carers. The CMLs have kept in touch with their volunteers to keep them interested in their library, with an online coffee morning group giving them the opportunity to meet up virtually.

The libraries have also worked collaboratively with the Council and helped support its Community Hub during the pandemic, and the Council is keen to look at ways this could be developed in future to improve how the city responds to these kind of challenges.

Councillor Robin Wood, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said:

The Community Managed Libraries were finding their feet when the pandemic started, but DHA rose to the occasion by being flexible and creative in the way it provided library services, while working hard to retain volunteers. The potential for supporting the local community has also been shown to be strong.

Karla Cook, Chief Executive Officer, Direct Help and Advice, said:

It has been a very difficult year for the city during the pandemic, but we have risen to the challenges and continued to provide library services at the CMLs where possible, and with the limitations and restrictions in place by the government.

We are very much looking forward to working with each local community and the volunteers to build on all the positive work that has already taken place and to move forward into a new era, building on our strong relationship with Derby City Council and working collaboratively to support the community and meet the emerging needs that Covid-19 has created.

Derwent Library was the last community library to transfer to DHA in March 2020, just as the pandemic began. The other CMLs are Allenton, Allestree, Blagreaves, Chellaston, Mackworth, The Philip Whitehead Memorial Library at Chaddesden Park, Sinfin, Spondon and Springwood Library in Oakwood.

If Cabinet approve the extension, DHA’s management agreement would be in place until March 2023 instead of March 2022. It is anticipated that the cost would be met through existing budgets.

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