Having read and examined the Brackley Library Feasibility Study, it is clear to me that practical solutions can be reached to ensure that the library remains open.
The report outlines that the supported volunteer library model could be financially viable. Volunteer-run libraries are naturally less expensive to run and can link in directly to the community. These types of libraries are not a new concept and there are currently thought to be 527 community managed libraries in the UK.
As stated in the report, "communities feel very strongly about maintaining community services and therefore there is motivation to find solutions. In many successful case studies, the involvement of volunteers in managing the library has brought about more positive change in bridging communities and making the libraries more inclusive." Brackley Library currently has excellent support from 56 volunteers who contribute 2,160 recorded hours per year. Local volunteers know a lot about their community and are a great asset to the facility.
Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) will be applying a Service Level Agreement to working with any third party that undertakes the management of the library. Throughout the Review of the Library Service consultation, the community of Brackley indicated that they would prefer to explore partnership working rather than library closure.
Brackley Town Council has submitted an Informal Expression of Interest for the management and operations of Brackley Library. Whilst there is a potential for a Community Managed Library to be successful, Brackley Town Council could offer further support and provide greater long-term security if it was to purchase the building from NCC and charge a lease fee at a lower rate than NCC.
I will continue to encourage NCC to work with library volunteers to discuss how the community could practically take ownership of the facilities and what support may be available to them. I also urge the communities of Middleton Cheney, Deanshanger and Roade to explore the possibilities of volunteer-run libraries.