by Iain Moore
The impact of COVID19 on communities has been deep and wide ranging. Recovery will be difficult: in education, in health, in employment and in the arts.
Ensuring that recovery reaches all parts of society will require a coherent and coordinated effort by communities and government. Failure to do this risks permanently embedding the inequalities the pandemic has so starkly highlighted.
Public libraries are well-placed to make significant contributions across all areas of the communities they serve and they provide services that are critical to recovery.
We know the challenges ahead are increasing and we know that our Future Funding programme will enable public libraries to actively develop effective and sustainable income generation strategies so they can maintain their services.
The Future Funding Programme aims to help library services to identify and develop the skills they need to diversify their funding streams, make effective use of the sector expertise available to them, identifying potential wider sector partnerships, and create support networks for peer development.
We are using a development model to guide this so that libraries can align the generation of sustainable income with the needs of their communities.
In December 2020, we created the Pathfinder group formed of Heads of Service and Commercial Managers, to support the development of a comprehensive programme, directly aligned with library needs and interests.
The group launched with two workshops delivered by the Future Funding Team and our training provider, NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations). Pathfinder group member, Simon Smith, Library Services Manager at Reading Council says:
‘We are taking part in the Pathfinder group to contribute to and support the entire public library sector - we know how helpful taking part and using the reopening toolkit was and see this as being another proactive step the sector itself can take in the ongoing quest for sustainability through income. At a time of great uncertainty, we need to look forward.’
My role as Commercial Director of Libraries Connected is to oversee the Future Funding Programme. Joining the team as Project Manager is Victoria Dilly, who brings a wealth of experience in delivering and managing projects and services across the public and third sector and previously worked as a librarian. Debbie Ollerenshaw will provide additional support as Projects and Business Administrator. The programme will open to prospective participants later this year.
We also have two new funding-focused activities to provide more immediate support for the sector. The Income Generation Group gives a space for facilitated online discussion to explore opportunities, share best practice and generate ideas using a solution-focused approach to help libraries develop their income strategies. If you are interested in joining this network you can apply here.
The Future Funding for Libraries webinar series launches this month, covering a range of topics from how to map out an income strategy for your library service to partnership working to marketing and promoting services. The webinars are open to Heads of Service and those in the Income Generation Network. Please contact your Head of Service if you would like to attend. A recording of each event will be made available on our website along with a summary of the discussion.
Libraries are a cornerstone of our communities and our society and I am genuinely excited to see this project begin. Future Funding will help libraries to generate the income they need to continue and grow their key role in our social infrastructure.