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Jul 22

Income Generation for Public Libraries: a Practical Guide for Library Service Commissioners and Providers in England

Enterprise, Innovation, Localism

Locality has worked with Arts Council England over a six month period to explore existing good practice and assess the potential to further enable income generation to support and enhance as well as to improve the overall resilience and sustainability of library services.

Read the report Income Generation for Public Libraries

The aim of the project was to support library service commissioners and providers to intensify or widen their area of operations in an enterprising way – without losing or compromising their ethos and core objectives. This guidance note builds upon our extensive work to support community-led libraries, as well as earlier research about ‘Enabling Enterprise in Libraries’, which identified a range of opportunities as well as challenges perceived to be limiting income generation in a public library context.

A key finding emerging from the research was that there is considerable uncertainty about legal and technical issues relating to trading, charging and investment which is preventing further innovation in this regard. There is, then, an identified need for better access to information about examples of income generation and routes to securing investment in library service enhancement.

Drawing on legal and investment expertise as well as contributions from library service commissioners and providers themselves, our Practical Guide seeks to provide a clear, concise note to clarify how library services can practically develop and implement income generating activities to benefit library services. It also includes relevant case studies from around the country.

We hope that it proves useful in helping to stimulate debate, encourage innovation and overcome perceived barriers amongst library leaders and front-line staff, and we are extremely grateful to everyone who contributed.

A helpful summary of our research findings and this technical guidance note is contained in a presentation delivered at the SCL South East regional meeting earlier this month, and is accompanied by a handout for download below:

Useful links

Community Knowledge Hub – Libraries
Enabling Enterprise in Libraries – handout

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