Mutual Ventures

Culture & Libraries

Financial constraints, demographic change and increased expectations are among the significant pressures facing councils and library services. In response, libraries, are re-positioning themselves, moving away from the traditional ‘books and buildings offer’, and considering alternative delivery models as a route to future sustainability of their services.  An increasing number of library services are establishing effective partnerships with social care, mental health, lifelong learning and cultural services. Some are developing innovative approaches to supporting start-ups and local businesses as part of their offer to employers and businesses. Other culture services, such as arts and heritage, are taking similar approaches.

The process of redesigning services, establishing a culture focused service as an alternative delivery model or working with new partners can be complex. Each service will face a range of local challenges and expectations in relation to the particular needs of the communities they serve, in addition to financial pressures experienced across the sector. MV can help you to consider these factors, analyse delivery options, plan, and implement your next steps.

Our offer

We offer a wide range of support to local authorities and library services:

Strategic Planning – our team can support you to develop your strategy, including support to assess need, review current services, develop a growth strategy and define the service’s future function.  Based on the service’s intended function, we are able to help you to consider whether the in-house model is right for your service, or whether an alternative delivery model may be a more suitable way to ensuring a move away from ‘managed decline’, towards a model that ensures the service’s sustainability over the long term. Find out more about our Strategy service.

New delivery models – our team support the redesign of existing services or new organisational forms, such as public sector-owned trading companies, joint ventures and independent social enterprises. Through a tried and tested process which includes appraising your options, engaging with key stakeholders and developing a robust business case we can support you through the entire journey. Find out more about our New Delivery Models service.

Service Transformation – we can help councils and culture services to consider changes to the way services are delivered, with a view to improving their sustainability and reducing their dependence on council funding.  This may be through the development of a new Public Service Operating Model framework which adapts services to the new reality. Through the development of a growth strategy, we can support your service to diversify income streams and establish partnerships with a range of public services. Find out more about our Service Transformation offer.

Our offer specific to Social Enterprises and Charities operating in the culture sector includes:

Growth and Partnerships – we support a wide range of independent culture focused organisations to develop and grow. This is typically through wining new contracts developing new traded services and supporting the development of resilient partnerships. Find out more about our Growth and Partnerships service.

Investment and Impact- we can help you to consider whether investment is the right option for you and support you on your journey to accessing investment. Demonstrating your social impact effectively is key to accessing opportunities for investment and contracts. We can help you to design and implement your approach to measuring social impact. Find out more about our Investment and Impact service.


If you would like more information or to discuss how we can help, please get in touch with Oliver Cappleman:

Some examples of our work:

Optimo Partnership- MV led the development of an Alternative Delivery Model Toolkit bringing together a range of technical processes and the real- life experiences of four library services that have established an alternative delivery model. Read the full case study

Libraries Unlimited- MV supported this independent staff and community owned mutual to transfer out of Devon County Council. This move enabled the service to focus on their mission and purpose, have a tighter focus on financial performance and build new partnerships. Read the full case study

Explore York Libraries & Archives- The City of York Council’s Libraries and Archives team sought to mutualise services to help them move towards a more innovative, responsive and sustainable service. MV worked closely with staff, and key stakeholders within the Council, to turn their vision into a robust business plan, and then supported them through the transition phase to enable them to successfully spin-out in May 2014.