COMMUNITY groups wishing to take on the running of a library have until January to submit an expression of interest.

By the end of March they will have to complete a full application.

Among the requirements are audited accounts and an agreed constitution, as well as a full business plan with financial forecasts and funding proposals for the next five years.

Prospective library providers must have, or be willing to acquire, public liability insurance for not less than £5,000,000.

These requirements may be verging on insurmountable for less-well established groups but are likely to be achievable for existing parish councils, schools or businesses for example.

Swindon Borough Council has committed to ensuring that there is some sort of start-up book stock in the libraries when they are handed over.

Beyond that, the community libraries can opt to purchase additional support and services from a borough council menu.

For example, a monthly delivery of the top 20 titles to refresh the book stock will cost £2,100 a year.

The use of a council-trained library assistant will cost £11.74 an hour plus a ten per cent management fee. A supervisor costs £14.23 an hour.

IT services, such as access to the council’s wireless network, or copying and scanning facilities will be negotiated for each library.