Merton to lead the way for London’s Library volunteers

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has announced that he is investing £100,000 into a new scheme to expand the number of volunteers supporting libraries in the capital, based on a successful model pioneered in Merton.

Over the last year Merton has recruited more than 370 volunteers in libraries across the borough. Volunteers support staff in a range of different roles including supporting children’s activities, delivering stock to customers as part of the home visits library service, meeting and greeting customers in libraries, delivering IT training and community outreach to increase library usage. Merton’s library volunteers have been working closely alongside library staff, enabling staff to focus on delivering key services, while volunteers can help with a wide variety of events and additional activities, including those for children and cultural groups.

The Mayor of London has awarded the money through his ‘Team London’ initiative, to develop a scheme which aims to strengthen local communities involvement in London’s public library services through supporting and creating volunteering opportunities. The project is looking for 2,000 people to sign up as ‘Library Champions’ to take part in the scheme. The project is based on developing a pan-London approach to volunteering based on the Merton model of volunteering in libraries where a formal partnership is established by the library service with the Volunteer Centre Merton.

A range of partner organisations are involved in developing the scheme, including the Association of Chief Librarians (ALCL) and the Chief Leisure Officers Association (CLOA) as well as Merton Council. The project will support Team London’s objectives to increase the recruitment of volunteers to help with social and environmental challenges in London, in particular to improve quality of life and increase opportunities to young people.

The project aims to develop a cohesive and coordinated approach to volunteering across London’s public library services, promoting the best examples of engaging the local community.

All London boroughs have been invited to bid to take part in the scheme and at least 10 boroughs will be awarded funding to take part and help them train staff and volunteers.

Merton Council’s Cabinet member for communities and culture, Councillor Martin Whelton said: ‘Merton leads the way in having the highest number of volunteers in our libraries of any London Borough and we are very proud of the huge contribution they make to our libraries. Volunteering offers residents a wide variety of practical skills and offers people a way to give back to their community. I look forward to seeing other authorities adopting the Merton model and making their own libraries great places and hubs for their community.’

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Merton are doing a wonderful job and I’m delighted they are involved in Team London Love Libraries. Public libraries offer a fantastic range of books to inspire and open minds, just as great Victorian philanthropists like Carnegie envisaged. Today they also can help with a host of other invaluable activities and services, such as reading support, free internet access and even help with job searching. Our Team London Love Libraries volunteers will help these great institutions share their valuable knowledge and information, building on the excellent work they already do and, I hope, strengthening their place at the heart of our communities.”

For more information about volunteering in libraries visit

Notes to editors:

1. Team London is the Mayor of London’s ambitious programme to mobilise an army of volunteers across the capital to improve life in London through programmes that will reduce crime, increase opportunities for youth and improve quality of life by cleaning and greening London and building stronger neighbourhoods. It has the support of and founding supporter the Reuben Foundation, which has provided £2m of funding. Since 2008, the Mayor’s programmes have galvanised tens of thousands of Londoners into action and Team London is seeking to attract an additional 10,000 volunteers by May 2012, which will take the number to 60,000. Please visit for more information, to find and post volunteering opportunities, and to nominate your volunteering heroes for a certificate of recognition from the Mayor.


Press Contact:

Leoni Munslow

Communications Officer

London Borough of Merton

020 8545 4654