Libraries Connected has been awarded £150,000 by Arts Council England to plan a programme of training and mentoring to help library services to develop strategic approaches to income generation.
The Future Funding programme will be designed and delivered by Libraries Connected in partnership with expert partners from the public, third and commercial sectors. The programme will help libraries to generate income in new ways by using the skills and resources they’ve built up as centres of knowledge and information.
The latest figures estimate that funding for public libraries has fallen by over £255m since 2010. In many libraries this is a third of their budget. In response, all public libraries are now focused on raising income from a range of sources. This includes funds from core activities such as book reservations and overdue fines to additional services such as cafes and shops.
This is a complex challenge, as libraries have to balance income generation with their legal duties and ethical mission of offering a comprehensive, free service to their communities. As a result, libraries need tailored support to develop a range of business development skills to help them to deliver a successful income strategy.
Libraries Connected will deliver in-depth training and mentoring to over 25% of library services in England. The training will cover topics such as: contract management, cost modelling, market analysis, risk management and marketing. Groups of 10 libraries will commit to a six-month period of training and support, and benefit from the shared wisdom of their peers in the group.
Mark Freeman, President, Libraries Connected:
‘Our members are crying out for help to manage the risks in business development and to ensure that our public service values remain at the heart of our income generation activity. As a Head of Service, I know how important it is to make sure that we get the right balance between income generation and delivering our core offer. So, thank you to Arts Council England for funding this vital piece of work which will help libraries to continue to provide a full service to local communities.’
Francis Runacres, Executive Director - Enterprise & Innovation, Arts Council England:
‘The Future Funding programme has been developed to support library services in identifying and responding to the challenges they currently face, running alongside their core activity. It will help services to use their existing skills and to develop new resources while exploring the options for becoming more resilient. Helping organisations be more sustainable is a key part of the Arts Council‘s role and so I’m pleased that we are supporting this programme in our role as the development agency for libraries.’
The first stage of the programme will begin immediately and run until March next year. Libraries Connected plan to begin the training programme with a conference in April 2020.