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Innovative plans to safeguard Devon’s library service

posted 23 Apr 2015, 14:31 by Julian Garner   [ updated 23 Apr 2015, 14:31 by Angie Cheshire ]
Plans to set up a new independent organisation to run Devon’s libraries have been unveiled.

The new community-owned ‘mutual’ would be commissioned by Devon County Council to run the library service on its behalf.

Similar models are successfully running library services in other parts of the country and saving council taxpayers’ money.

The authority is facing a £50 million reduction in its funding in the next financial year.

It has already shaved £3 million off its library service budget over the past three years, and aims to save a further £1.5 million by April 2016. Despite the cuts not a single library has been closed in Devon.

As part of its long term strategy to deliver savings whilst maintaining a professionally run network of libraries across the county, the council has investigated a number of alternative operating models for the service, including sharing its management and delivery with neighbouring local authorities or finding an external provider to deliver it.

However, in response to overwhelming support from communities prepared to work more closely with their local libraries, the council is now looking to set up an independent, community led organisation to continue to deliver an affordable, sustainable and innovative library service that keeps the community at its heart.

It will also mean greater flexibility and give the service freedom to secure additional funding and income as well as offering communities the opportunity for far greater involvement in how their local libraries are run.