Bradford City Council – planning public library services to meet local needs

In 2013, Bradford Libraries commissioned a review of its library service. This was a major piece of work and involved considerable consultation with library users and non-users and other stakeholders. This case study forms part of the Different delivery models – libraries (in-house) section of our online Culture Hub.

The review measured 26 libraries on all aspects of performance and came up with a ranking of those libraries for political consideration. Four community managed libraries were not included in the review.

The review allowed for various aspects of scenario modelling; not just performance measures. This included educational attainment and physical proximity. The benefit of the data analysis was that it could address most scenarios and provide a ranking.

In late 2015, the proposal for Bradford Libraries was to offer all but seven libraries out to community management. These were the top ranking seven from the Libraries Review based on performance. As a further two libraries in the meantime had become venue-managed, this meant the offer for 14 communities was for their libraries to become community managed by April 2017, or they would close.

Following public consultation throughout January and February 2016, the proposal was amended and the decision taken so that ten libraries would remain council-managed, two would be hybrid (a mix of staff and volunteers) and twelve would be volunteer managed. The rationale for this was not based on work undertaken in the review but rather a geographical and numerical distribution in political constituencies.

All but one community expressed an interest in managing their libraries – some sooner than others and not all in time for April 2017. However, the political will is for work to continue with those communities who weren’t ready (though eight libraries have closed temporarily to allow this to happen). By summer 2017, the council anticipates that there will be: 10 council-managed libraries; 2 hybrid libraries; 2 venue-managed libraries (both in community hubs rather than retail premises), and; 15 community managed libraries. All 29 libraries will continue to be supported by Bradford Libraries and remain part of the public libraries network.


This case study has been developed in conjunction with Arts Council England