Devon set to outsource the running of its libraries


Devon County Council is set to outsource the running of its libraries to ‘secure the future of Devon’s library service’ and ensure it remains economically viable.

The libraries will be taken over by a new private organisation created by the council which will be responsible for the delivery of services. The new organisation will be owned by library staff and the community and managed by a chief executive and board of trustees.

The company will operate under the name ‘Devon Libraries’, although the registered name will be Libraries Unlimited South West. It will legally be a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, which the Council believes will optimise commercial and charitable benefits, such as 80 per cent relief on business rates.

If the plans are approved, services will be expected to begin from April 2016.

Roger Croad, the county council’s cabinet member responsible for the service, explained: “These ambitious plans will give our libraries the opportunity to grow, and the communities who enjoy the services on offer, and the staff that enjoy providing them, will have a real stake and influence over their future.

“They will have a more direct say in the running of the library service because they will own the new organisation as part of the public service mutual, and their interests will be directly presented on the board of the organisation, whose sole focus will be running excellent libraries.”

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