Woman sat in the library with people behind her with open books on the table

Libraries offering support with winter cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis, alongside the cold winter weather we’re currently experiencing, has made life a great deal harder for many living in the UK.

High inflation has driven up food prices, energy prices have been prohibitive due to the war in Ukraine and supply issues, plus household bills have soared over recent months. Coupled with this, people’s pay packets have generally not increased in line with inflation and today’s prices. As a result, some are really experiencing hardship.

Break for good coffee and good book

Communities in difficulty

It’s often a challenge for people in these circumstances to know where to turn for help. Libraries have always been at the heart of their communities, a place for people to go when they need to find something out or to access the internet for learning, training or job support.

And that’s why libraries across the UK are offering widespread support for their communities, not just in the cold weather as warm spaces, but also as a hub to connect, engage and feel safe.

Libraries as ‘warm banks’

Spearheaded by Libraries Connected, a UK charity that represents local and community libraries, the concept of the library as a ‘warm bank’ has taken hold. In essence, libraries already offer free, warm spaces for local communities to enjoy, learn and spend time. 

In response to many local communities having to make the decision between heating and eating, Libraries Connected surveyed approximately 50 libraries to explore how these organisations were responding. It was found that around 60% are planning to be proactive and offer their spaces as a ‘warm bank’ for local people seeking support, with many looking to collaborate with other local organisations, such as churches and community centres, to research how they can all work together to best support their communities (1).

close up of a man and woman studying in a library

Libraries facing high costs

Unfortunately, the vast majority of libraries that want to provide ‘warm banks’ will not receive any extra funding so they can better manage their own costs. A great proportion of these libraries want to also provide hot drinks and advice on bills for their patrons so they feel informed and supported. 

Isobel Hunter MBE, chief executive of Libraries Connected, said:

“We know that libraries are determined to support people through the difficult months ahead, but without additional resources the number they can help will be severely restricted. And it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to plan a programme of support for the whole winter.” (2)

In fact, plenty of public-facing buildings and organisations have been struggling themselves with rising costs, such as museums, community centres and advice services, not just libraries.

So it’s even more testament to the purposeful, caring and responsive services these environments provide for everyone, when libraries and other organisations are stepping up to provide warmth, shelter and a strong sense of community.

Useful tools

Martin Lewis, the UK financial journalist worked with CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) to create ‘A Warm Welcome’ guide detailing best practices and practical tips for any organisation looking to set up a warm bank. have also set up a warm bank website directory for people to search for warm banks in their area. Any organisation that has set up a warm space can register on the site to help support their community (3).

girl sitting at a table reading

Libraries offering practical provision

Libraries offer so much more than simply collating and providing resources or texts. Many libraries are central in job seekers’ searches for jobs, training and additional skills development.

With the massive growth in videoconferencing, many libraries are now providing dedicated videoconferencing areas, rooms or spaces which can be reserved or booked for free.

As a result of continuing difficult financial circumstances, a growing amount of people still find themselves in, quite a few local and community libraries offer free CV writing and editing workshops. There may also be interview preparation and technique sessions, plus access to a wide range of job or training-related support.

Some of these locations may have set up AR (augmented reality) zones, where patrons can run through interviews or practise for practical assessments in real time. There may also be opportunities with AR to explore modular courses, and vocational or apprenticeship preparation and training.

How AdvaNova can help libraries

AdvaNova has collaborated closely with a vast number of libraries for decades, including university, community, public and commercial libraries.

As such, we are well placed to provide useful advice and proactive support so that libraries have the technology and appropriate solutions in place to operate effectively and successfully for staff and patrons.

Our access control solutions enable libraries to safely and purposefully control and manage their environments to maximise the experience for users and employees alike.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss how AdvaNova can best support your organisation.


Copyright 2024 @ AdvaNova