Libraries need to become ‘risk-taking’ fundraisers if they are to stay afloat yet must retain their ‘core ethos’, a report says.
A research paper from community network Locality has urged libraries to become ‘more enterprising’ to cover the combined pressures of declining borrowing rates and mounting austerity measures.
Income generated by libraries is currently only ‘a fraction’ of their total expenditure but a number of authorities are pioneering innovative approaches to make the most of existing assets and generate funds, the ‘Income generation for public libraries’ report details.
It highlights how Cultural Community Solutions - which runs libraries on behalf of the London boroughs of Ealing, Croydon, Hounslow and Harrow - has explored running a number of specialist workshops to generate income including teaching people how to operate 3D printers. The group is also developing creative work spaces in its libraries to allow the community to develop business ideas and hobbies.
Gateshead Council is developing a school holidays service programme for its central library that will generate income for the service, while Nottingham City Libraries is planning measures that will make its music and drama lending service self-funding.
However Locality added that while library authorities needed to become more innovative with their existing assets, providers should not compromise on their ethos.
The group’s CEO Tony Armstrong said: ‘Library services play a vitally important role in our communities and it’s essential that we safeguard them for the future.
‘We hope that this report inspires other libraries all over the country to look for new and innovative ways of helping to sustain themselves so they can continue to provide important services for their communities and respond to changing needs.’