£130,000 “black hole” the Council hasn’t declared to prospective Library Volunteers.

On September 4th, the Council released detailed packs of information to help any prospective group, planning to volunteer to run a library, to understand its potential costs. On closer examination, it is evident that these documents only give half the story and they miss out costs amounting to  £110k pa Anyone using these reports needs to proceed with caution!

The information packs detail costs amounting to £140k pa across 10 libraries

They specifically omit the following costs, which are noted in the documents and which are necessary for the running of a library. This assumes that the group signs up to both Enhanced Support Packages. If not, then the costs would be even higher…

  • Cleaning  69 hrs a week = £26k pa at minimum wage
  • Public liability and other insurances
  • Ground maintenance
  • Interior decoration / floor coverings
  • Fixtures, fitting and furnishings – maintenance, and new purchase
  • Purchase / maintenance of:
    • Scanners
    • Photocopiers
    • Self-service equipment
    • CCTV
  • Office consumables
  • Volunteer expenses ( not identified in the documents, but will be necessary)

The total cost (overheads) of all 10 libraries that the Council has included in its business case ( ref Freedom of Information), which it assumes it will save, equals £250k pa ( excluding staff costs).

It is not unreasonable to assume that the missing £110k pa ( £250k – £140k) will still be incurred by the Volunteer led libraries.

The total grant available for all 10 libraries is only £120k pa

( exc £55k from the £175k which is ring-fenced for books, not overheads – this will element will be retained by the Council if CML agrees to Enhanced Support Package 1).

Even against the costs identified by the Council, the grant is £20k pa, short.

…against the existing running costs it is – £130k pa short!

This “black hole” in funding will have to be secured by the volunteers – simply to keep afloat!


The information packs give a a lot of detail, much of which is not relevant, but in order to make a business decision they are woefully inadequate.

If the groups, who may wish to consider volunteering, took them at face value, then the danger is that they will run into deficit very quickly. The Council should be open and transparent that the grant is significantly less than the current running costs of these libraries and should have highlighted the monumental fund-raising burden that will be necessary from day 1.

This makes Community Managed Libraries – wholly unworkable!

50% of the cost from the Council – 50% of the cost from an, as yet, unidentified 3rd Party funder.


The overarching issue with this proposal is that the volunteers are not “helping out” the existing paid Library staff – they are facilitating the sacking of those paid staff, and replacing them as un-paid volunteers. Immoral, unethical, unacceptable? Yes! This can be sugar-coated in polite terms – but this is what is happening!

Categories: Libraries

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1 reply »

  1. DCC do not include the setting up of a CIC or similar to run the CML (charitable status would give 80% discount on business rate), auditing of annual accounts, legal charges, insurances etc. My first shot shows the Allestree Ward would have to raise £25k+ per annum over and above what we might get from DCC. Leicestershire CC have a seven year taper for the introduction of what they term Community Participation Libraries. Then CPLs can have links with their Parish Councils, providing financial support and in some cases premises.

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