In January 2015, Devon County Council launched a year-long community pilot programme. 13 communities across Devon were selected to work with Devon Libraries to test ways of supporting their local libraries and enhancing the services provided in them.
A recent evaluation of the programme shows that the programme has increased community use of libraries, encouraged more people to volunteer in their local libraries and there has been an increase in opening hours of 268 hours per month across 6 of the libraries involved in the pilot programme.
The results of the evaluation and the feedback from those communities who took part will shape how Libraries Unlimited, the new organisation that will run libraries across Devon from April 2016, will work with local communities in the future.
Click on the links below to see what each pilot has achieved in the last year.
Project summary: relocating the library to the Post Office with an aspiration to extend access to the library
The library has successfully relocated to share premises with the Post Office. A team of volunteers have been recruited and trained enabling library opening hours to increase by 200% to 54 hours per week. The Friends of Ashburton Library are now looking forward to building partnerships with other community groups in the town and hosting more events in the library.
Project summary: relocating the library to larger premises in the Old School House
Much of the pilot year was spent in getting support from the local community and applying for various grants, so the project to move the library into a larger, more accessible space has taken longer than the pilot year, but funding of £150,000 has just been agreed from the Power to Change fund, and building work will start soon. Negotiations are still taking place with LARCS (Library & Resource Centre Supporters) and Libraries Unlimited about how the move will take place but there is now a target date of August 2016 for the library relocation.
Project summary: relocating the library to the new Community Hub building
A steering group for the proposed Community Hub has been established and will involve representation from the library. The aim of the group is to prepare community consultation, a business plan and a funding strategy.
Project summary: extending the library opening hours by installing self service machines
Self-service kiosks have been installed in the library alongside some minor alterations to the layout. A team of volunteers have been recruited and trained enabling library opening hours to increase by 33% to 28 hours per week. The Library Friends Group has also established a successful film club and is developing stronger links with schools and other local organisations. There are aspirations to further improve the library accommodation.
Project summary: transfering ownership of the library building to the community and reducing running costs
The Parish Council has agreed to take on the ownership of the library building and work is ongoing to agree Heads of Terms and licence agreements. Target handover is 1st April 2016.
Project summary: extending access to the library and reducing shared running costs with the Flavel Centre
The library is now open on Wednesdays, increasing opening hours to 37hpw. A Library Friends Group has been established. The group is now looking at ways to make efficiencies across the building as a whole.
Project summary: extending access to the library and reducing shared running costs with The Watermark
Library opening hours have increased by 21% to 46 hpw. The library is now open on Wednesdays with a mixture of staffed and volunteer-run sessions. The IT suite has been updated and can now be used more flexibly. A self-service print kiosk has been installed.
Project summary: making better use of the library space, and increasing income, through the installation of moveable shelving
Moveable shelving has been installed, and folding tables and stacking chairs have been purchased, to enable the library space to be used flexibly for events. The group is now working on encouraging community groups to use the library space.
Project summary: exploring ways of sustaining the library service and extending access to library
The group have worked hard to raise the profile of the library within the community and to set up an active Friends Group. Volunteers have been recruited and the group are supporting library staff to offer increased activity with an aspiration to extend library opening hours.
Project summary: relocating the library to a larger building and extending library access
The Town Council have purchased the former Nat West bank in the centre of the town with the aim to provide an improved library with disabled access, Tourist Information Centre and public conveniences.
Project summary: extending library access and reducing running costs
New increased opening hours began on 5 May with volunteer support. Library hours have increased from 6hpw to 13.5 hpw. A reduction in the lease has been negotiated and terms will be finalised soon.
Project summary: transfering ownership of the library building to the Estuary league of Friends and extending access to library
Transfer of the building, partnership agreement and licence to occupy was granted to Estuary League of friends (ELoF) on 1st April. The library has been refurbished as part of community service programme by Midas and self- service installed. ELoF now own the building and pay all building related running costs. Increased opening hours supported by ELoF volunteers began 7/9/15. Opening hours increased from 15hpw to 19.50hpw.
Project summary: extending library access and reducing shared running costs
Activity during the pilot year was delayed by key players leaving the area but towards the end of the year the local Community Development Trust indicated that they would be in favour of moving the town TIC into the building and using TIC staff and a team of volunteers to extend library opening hours, so work is now proceeding with this plan.