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Why will Cornwall Council not be running Liskeard Library in the future?
Cornwall Council is under huge pressure to make budget cuts; during 2015 – 19 the council needs to reduce spending by £196 million, with no doubt more to come in the next budget round from 2020 -24.
The consequence of this budget pressure is that Cornwall Council will no longer be responsible for funding any library buildings or library staff in the county. That said, Cornwall Council still has a statutory obligation to provide library services.
To maintain the service in Liskeard, Cornwall Council invited responses from organisations that could take on library buildings and formal library service contracts. Liskeard Town Council agreed the library was important to the town but were not in a position to run it themselves and therefore sought a partner; that’s where RIO came in.
Who is RIO and why are they going to run the library?
With expertise across regeneration, community development, education, employability, arts, culture and digital, RIO uses social enterprise as a vehicle to drive social change.
RIO was set up in Cornwall in 2007. It is registered in Cornwall and has offices in Liskeard, St Austell and Redruth, as well as further afield in Plymouth and Bristol. Working intensively in Liskeard for more than 5 years, supporting young people into education and employment, RIO’s Liskeard base is at 26 Fore Street and many of its staff live and work in the town.
RIO has a long track record working with libraries and supported the creation of Libraries Unlimited to take on libraries in Devon when Devon County Council went through a devolution process. Libraries Unlimited is re-imagining library services, in Devon and further afield, adopting a social enterprise structure to innovate the library service and make a positive difference to people’s lives.
RIO is also experienced in taking on the running of publicly owned buildings and making them sustainable. In 2007 RIO took on Devonport Guildhall from Plymouth City Council, renovating it and opening it to the public in 2010. RIO has run Devonport Guildhall successfully for over 8 years, generating income from hiring the spaces for community and business use and without any revenue funding.
Will the core ordering & return services be affected?
How will Stuart House, the Museum and the Liskerrett Centre be affected by the changes?
With a renovated library open for longer and on more days per week, it is hoped that everyone will benefit and that we can support and promote each other’s offer.
What will the opening hours be?
What are RIO’s plans to make the library financially sustainable?
There will be no revenue funding to keep the building open and the service running which means that the library building will need to generate revenue to support this.
By creating a first-class library service along with flexible spaces for community use, co-working spaces, facilities for local businesses and a complementary catering offer, RIO intends to generate enough revenue to support the library service in Liskeard.
The library service will always remain free to users. Hiring out space, hosting events and providing catering would generate revenue to cover the costs of the building.
What happens when the grants run out?
Grants may be sought to support the renovation of the library building however grants of this nature are one-off capital investments and not designed to fund running costs of the library provision or ongoing building costs.
There may be potential in the future to secure grants for specific pieces of work or programmes to be run out of the library. This type of activity would not displace the core library service and would only be sought if they could enhance or meet identified needs in the community. It is likely that any bids of this type will be in partnership with others.
Having read about the plans in The Cornish Times, does the town need another café?
From our conversations with the community people have told us they want to be able to buy a cup of tea or grab a bite to eat while using the library, and for community groups and businesses having a catering offer in the building will add to the attractiveness for them too.
We understand that some café owners in the town may have been concerned when they read the piece in the Cornish Times earlier this year and we have had constructive and positive conversations with many local café owners since then.