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The Community Asett Transfer of Libraries: considerations in community managed libraries taking a lease

Lookup NU author(s): Deborah Forbes



This is the final published version of a report that has been published in its final definitive form by Newcastle University; University of Sheffield, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This report covers the considerations involved in community managed libraries taking a lease with their Council. This is related to the long-term sustainability of community managed libraries. The main advantages of a lease are control over adaptations to the building, enhanced ability to bid for grants and protecting the assets accumulated by the community. The main disadvantage of a lease is the transfer of liabilities, especially maintenance costs. Libraries have found it difficult to find the appropriate people in the council to negotiate the details of the lease with. The lease offered may need to be adapted to accommodate the range of activities the volunteers want to develop, rather than using one suitable for a traditional library. The libraries also need to be able to sustain volunteer commitment. Some are reliant on a few key volunteers and have had difficulty recruiting to management roles. The ability to respond more flexibly to community needs is one of the major benefits of volunteer management. This has transformed the nature of the libraries such as many are running twice as many activities as previously. They have transformed into ‘community hubs’. Each library has to strike a balance between achieving economic sustainability and meeting a social mission. They do not regard themselves as businesses, but rather have to use some business practices to achieve their purpose. The report is based on interviews conducted in community libraries in one town. In this report libraries and the city has been anonymised

Publication metadata

Author(s): Forbes D, Nichols G

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2020

Pages: 27

Print publication date: 13/01/2020

Acceptance date: 13/01/2020

Institution: Newcastle University; University of Sheffield