The Labour-led administration of Derby City Council and Direct Help and Advice (DHA) have signed agreements confirming the local charity’s plans to run all ten proposed Community Managed Libraries.

Sinfin Library will be the first to open on 14th May 2018 as part of plans to deliver a successful and financially sustainable library service for Derby, committing to the Council’s pledge that no library in the city will close.

The signed grant and management agreements will ensure the library is supported to continue running the core services customers currently receive. This includes access to the Council’s extensive range of books and existing computing services.

DHA will be working in partnership with Community Action Derby and Citizens Advice to provide additional services currently only accessible in Derby city centre. The local charities have extensive experience in the voluntary sector and will also play a vital role in recruiting volunteers to help run the libraries.

Councillor Amo Raju, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, is happy to see plans moving forward. He said:

“I’m extremely pleased to be signing these agreements with DHA and am confident it will lead to strong and successful library services for communities across the city.

“Our job is to make Derby an even greater place to live, work and visit which is why protecting Derby’s libraries from closure is one of the key 50 Council pledges we have made.

Keeping this promise and developing a modern and sustainable service for library users will ultimately help us raise the achievement and skills of local people in the future.”

In return for its grant and the non-financial support it will receive, DHA will ensure that each Community Managed Library will provide a high quality, traditional library offer. Libraries run by DHA will help improve the life chances of local communities by encouraging reading, informal learning and digital access in a safe, accessible and welcoming environment.

Community Managed Libraries will receive an annual grant of £175k from Derby City Council, of which £55k will be used to buy books and audio books. The remaining £120k will cover costs needed to run the service.

DHA will also have access to a one-off grant of £114,750 for all ten libraries involved in the project, which will last until March 2022.

Experienced library staff will be on hand to deliver training to volunteers. This will cover a range of day-to-day library tasks, including use of the Library Management System.

Training will also enable the requests service to remain in place, allowing users of any Community Managed Libraries access to stock in all Derby libraries as well as those run by Derbyshire County Council.

A dedicated Community Libraries Team within the Library Service’s staffing structure will also be available to provide DHA and its volunteers with day-to-day advice and guidance, including on-site support and a telephone help-line.

Additional support includes help with book selection and management from the City Council’s professional librarians, regular exchanges of books between Council-run and DHA-run libraries, and free access to broadband connectivity and computers providing internet access.

Furthermore, the Big Lottery have examined our proposals and confirmed in principle that they have no plans to claw back funding if any libraries they have helped to fund are transferred to community management.

The remaining nine proposed Community Managed Libraries will be transferred in a phased process, which is expected to be completed by Christmas.

Paul Naylor, Chief Executive Officer, Direct Help and Advice, has said:

“DHA will now be working closely with our partners and the library communities to identify how best we can deliver library services that meet the needs and expectations of residents, focusing on both existing services and new provision.

This will mean more local services will be delivered in a community hub in the heart of the community, led by voluntary sector partners, above and beyond what you might expect from the traditional library model.

Crucially, DHA will strive to either meet or exceed the current operating hours of the libraries, depending on the level of volunteer support they are able to secure.”

Rafe Nauen, the Chair of Trustees at DHA, has said:

“This is a very exciting time not only for DHA as a charity, but also for the voluntary sector as a whole within the city of Derby. This is the start of bringing other partners together that will create a unique and positive way of working in this sector.”

DHA will be working with a number of other partners on this project, including Derbyshire Community Bank, Women’s Work, Derby University and the Padley Centre.

For more information, including how to get involved in volunteering, please call Suzanne Walker from Direct Help and Advice on 01332 287850.

Information on library services can be found on the In Derby website.