Council searching for group to take over management of a Northampton community library as it is yet to reopen

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The group would need to provide staffing or volunteers for a minimum of 12 opening hours a week

A group is being sought to take over the management of a community library in Northampton as it is yet to reopen following the pandemic.

St James Library, off St James’ Road, has had a bumpy ride over recent years and it is once again in a position where it is in need of a group to run it.

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St James Residents Association led a campaign in 2011 to save St James library from closure, which proved to be a success at the time.

St James Library.St James Library.
St James Library.

However, it was later announced in 2018 that the now defunct Northamptonshire County Council could not afford to continue running a number of libraries, including St James, so asked for community groups to offer to take over the management.

Volunteers from Friends of St James Library and Goodwill Solutions were proposed to run the library.

However, the facility has not yet reopened since the pandemic forced closure in 2020.

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Now West Northamptonshire Council is appealing to the community to seek new expressions of interest to take over the running of the library as a ‘community managed library,’ under an agreed service level agreement.

The council will provide and maintain:

-Access to the library management system in order to run a public library lending system as part of the countywide library offer, enabling customers to borrow and return stock at any library

-One public computer providing internet access for the public via the People’s Network

-A self service kiosk

-Book stock on the day of transfer and an ongoing supply of new stock, which remains the property of the council

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-Training and ongoing support for volunteers and staff running the community library though two community managed library co-ordinators

However the group that takes over will need to cover the costs of leasing the library premises, or provide alternative premises, and all staffing and or volunteers to provide at least 12 opening hours a week.

Councillor Adam Brown, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure and Housing and Deputy Leader of West Northamptonshire Council said: “Libraries provide important services for local people and continue to be a valued hub within our communities.

“The last couple of years have been difficult for many – particularly community groups who have seen demand for their services increase as a result of the pandemic, however we hope that this unique opportunity will spark interest and enable the local community to continue to benefit from a dedicated library service.”

Anyone interested in exploring the offer further is asked to submit an expression of interest by email to [email protected] by 5pm on Friday February 25, 2022.