General Responsibilities for Running Community Services
Community organisations delivering library services on behalf of the local council (or other body) under contract will be bound by contractual obligations e.g. specifications of service and targets. If the council is contracting you as a part of its Public Library Service your contractual obligations are likely to include compliance with the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. See the featured legal note for details.
Aside from the service you deliver you must also consider the inherent requirements of running a building with public access. For example, you will also have a duty of care towards people within the building and as such you need to consider such matters as Health and Safety regulation in relation to volunteers, employees, and visitors. Health and Safety is a complex area involving legal responsibilities.
Make sure that you research all areas fully. Official guidance can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Remember you are responsible for Health and Safety from the moment you gain possession of the building. Also, if space within the building is rented to others you will also need to have regard to Property Law in relation to your role and responsibilities as a landlord. Further details on these matters are provided in the ‘Managing Premises’ information resource.
Finally, you will have rules and responsibilities to follow as an organisation. Some of these will be internal rules such as those set down in your Governing Documents or in Policy, and some will be external requirements e.g. Company Law, Charity Law, Employment Law, and related guidance on good practice. As an organisation you are likely to have to meet certain regulatory reporting requirements depending on the nature your legal structure e.g. submitting Annual Reports and Accounts to Companies House and/or the Charity Commission. Further details on these matters are provided in the ‘Organisational Development’ information resource featured here.