23 April 2014

A new trust aimed at supporting Northamptonshire’s public library service has been launched.

The Charity Commission has approved the registration of the Northamptonshire Libraries Trust which has been created as part of Northamptonshire County Council’s strategy to safeguard the long-term future of libraries in the county.

About the library strategy

The strategy was published in 2011 in response to ongoing financial challenges as well as to ensure that libraries will be fit for the 21st century by March 2016.

A mid-term review of the strategy last year found that the library service was on track to achieve its required savings and to carry out the transformation set out in the strategy. For example, all libraries now open on Sundays and offer a range of services, from bus passes to business start-up advice plus the library service now has over 600 volunteers.

Establishing the Trust is the latest step in the strategy as although libraries will continue to be run by the county council, the Trust will be the new charitable arm for the service and will help giving and donations go further.

Money raised through the Trust, which will also be known as the LibraryPlus Trust, will be allocated through grants to support specific projects, to purchase new equipment or enhance the facilities on offer.

Deputy leader for the county council and cabinet member for customer and communities Councillor Heather Smith said: “We welcome the creation of the Northamptonshire Libraries Trust and the support it will give to the library service.

“In Northamptonshire we have one of the country’s best and most enterprising public library services – it has the council’s full support and plays an essential role in ensuring the wellbeing of county residents.

“The library service is known as LibraryPlus because it offers so much more than just books. Today’s libraries also provide a wide range of services such as business advice, children’s activities and support for jobseekers to name but a few.

“The Trust will help ensure that libraries can continue to thrive and develop these types of extra services as well as harness the support of the communities across Northamptonshire.

“This is the first charity of its kind to support a county-wide library service in the UK – customers in every library in Northamptonshire will see the benefit of the charity’s support.”

The founding trustees are local business leaders Gary Blakeley and Rob Purdie, plus a representative from the county council, currently assistant director for customers and communities Sue Grace.

The Trust’s stated purpose is “to support Northamptonshire public libraries and in doing so, enhance opportunities for the people of Northamptonshire to achieve prosperity and wellbeing for themselves and their communities”.

The Trust is one of the first new library charitable incorporated organisations to be set-up under legislation introduced by the government last year.