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Case study: Hertfordshire County Council and Libraries for Life

Updated: Apr 15


Client: Hertfordshire County Council and Libraries for Life


Date: From January 2018


Challenges faced by the client: Hertfordshire’s Library Service, like many library services across England, was delivering high-quality services to the community. It has reacted to years of budget cuts and redesigned it service time-and-time again. However, with another £500,000 savings target against the Service, it wanted to explore a new way of delivering library services.


Considering success stories from elsewhere in England (e.g. Libraries Unlimited and York Explore) and using the Mutual Ventures developed Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) toolkit, the Services’ senior leadership had come to the conclusion that a Public Service Mutual would allow for the ongoing delivery of high-quality services and help achieve future savings targets.


Support offered: Mutual Ventures, with legal support from Bates Wells, via the DCMS Mutuals Support Programme firstly ran a quality assurance on the Services’ work to date. The purpose to validate its thinking and verify that a Public Service Mutual was the best option. Following that we conducted a legal form options appraisal, to determine that a Company Limited by Guarantee, with charitable status was the optimum legal form.


We then supported the Council and the emerging Public Service Mutual through the Council’s decision making process. Writing a business plan for the new Public Service Mutual and providing advice and guidance throughout. When the Council decided it needed to run a procurement exercise in order to award the contract, we provided support the Public Service Mutual to put forward its best big, and win the contract.


Since then we’ve supported the newly formed Libraries for Life to implement the new model, and despite a few challenges to implementation, including a delay due to COVID 19, Libraries for Life is set to go live soon running library services for the county of Hertfordshire.


Outcome achieved: Our support helped create a Public Service Mutual for the continued delivery of high-quality and affordable library services for the people of Hertfordshire. The process of creating a Public Service Mutual is complex. Our expertise and support helped deliver a Libraries for Life, and post-go-live will see the people of Hertfordshire continue to receive high-quality services in their community.