Search This Blog

Monday, 16 February 2015

Costs of Volunteer Libraries

I have pondered before the success of volunteer (community managed) libraries.  What worries me is that there is very little evidence either way.  Given how central the approach is in many authorities, this is rather worrying. 

In the Brent case, we dealt with this at one point during the Willesden Green Library Saga.  It was proposed that instead of having interim services as they are now, we should re-open some of the closed libraries and use those on a temporary basis.  This was dealt with at the time.  The upfront cash costs of re-opening were substantial, more than £1.2 million (paragraph 3.13 of the report).

More interesting are the comments in the subsequent paragraph:

"There is also proposal that a proportion of these costs could be mitigated by using volunteers. If we are looking to provide a full and reliable seven day a week library service then the wisdom of relying on volunteers needs to be examined in line with our LTP. Volunteers to complement the work of professional staff can be beneficial but replacement of staff with volunteers is not part of the LTP. Managing, recruiting and training volunteers is a cost that is not warranted by the impact of the short term closure."

It emphasises, as has been done by some campaign groups such as SLAM, that volunteer libraries may end up costing more. 

Partly a service needs to be restructured so that professional staff are available to manage and advise the volunteers.  Partly, volunteers still require training and may6 have other on costs.  One doesn't really get the impressions that these aspects are really considered by authorities such as Lincolnshire of Leicestershire.

No comments:

Post a Comment