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Library campaigners invited to take part in workshops about future management options

Fresh engagement work is about to begin with Bristol’s library campaigners and supporters, councillors and library staff in order to explore alternative ways of managing the city’s library service.

An independent options appraisal was commissioned in November 2017, following funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to assess and evaluate alternative models for managing a future ‘core’ library service for Bristol.  The work is expected to finish in April 2018. 

As part of its work to close the current budget gap of £108 million by 2022, Bristol City Council needs to save £1.4 million from spending on libraries, leaving an annual libraries budget of £3.2 million from 2019.

Workshops will take place later this month to discuss options for the management and governance of any future core libraries. A number of models, including a trust, mutual, industrial provident society or outsourcing to another provider, will be considered. (see notes to editors for definitions).

Alongside this work, Bristol City Council is continuing to review and assess options for wider library service provision across the city such as community-run libraries, libraries run by volunteers or shared or co-located services with city partners.

These could help ensure that as many people as possible can easily access book loans and other library services even if they are not directly provided by the council.

This follows feedback received through last year’s Your Neighbourhood consultation and the wealth of comments submitted.

Bristol City Council is reviewing how the service can be delivered to meet the needs and demands of local residents while operating within a reduced budget.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries said: “We are thoroughly committed to making sure the city has affordable and high quality library services. Last year’s consultation clearly demonstrated passionate support for libraries from some of our citizens and an openness to new ways of working. As the ways people use libraries are changing; so our library service must change and adapt to new technology and new expectations.

“We are currently exploring all possible options including how we manage a ‘core’ library service alongside other community-based library services.

“We look forward to working with campaigners, staff and elected members as part of that process to help us form proposals.”

Further formal consultation with staff, campaigners and the public may be carried out depending on the options identified.

Notes to Editors

1.Information on alternative delivery models is available:

2.Information on the DCMS funding stream is available:

Alternative delivery models - in detail – from the DCMS toolkit

Each of the 5 ADM options offers library services and councils something different in terms of ownership, governance/control and the flexibility to innovate. The table below summarises the high level characteristics of each option.

Delivery model




Remaining in-house with re-engineering

100% parent council

Within council management structures and hierarchy

Can only deliver local public sector services

Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) - sometimes referred to as a Wholly Owned Company

100% parent council(s)

Can be designed for flexibility/autonomy. Requires a council appointed board. Service Level Agreement (SLA)/contract with parent council(s) - control test

Flexible - but majority of services delivered on behalf of parent council(s) - function test

Public Service Mutual (PSM)

Variety of options: council and staff, staff and community, 100% staff

Can be designed as required. Board membership dependent upon ownership. SLA/contract with council(s). Well positioned to promote co-production

Flexible - can deliver services to councils, private or VCS customers

Outsource to existing social enterprise, third sector or private provider

100% third party provider

Arranged via contract. Well positioned to promote co-production

Contracted services delivered on behalf of council(s)

Joint venture

Potential for joint ownership, including staff, council(s) and/or third party provider

Can be designed as required. SLA/contracts as required. Well positioned to promote co-production

Flexible - can be delivered to council(s) and private/Voluntary and Community Sector customers