Bruce Leeke, CEO of Suffolk Libraries

On this week’s Suffolk Money podcast, we talk about libraries and, if you haven’t been in one lately, you’ll be amazed what’s changed. Colin Low’s guest is Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries and he explains about what has happened since Suffolk Libraries became the first council library service in the country to become an independent charity.

Although the main driver behind the change in 2012 was financial – with the spectre of library closures looming – Suffolk Libraries, the charity, has not only saved millions of pounds since its launch, but also made a huge impact on people’s lives across the county. 

Bruce explains how there is so much more to libraries than just millions of books, now that they are run by the community for the community. Dynamic, flexible and focused on delivering things that local people need, each library has moveable shelves, so can easily accommodate groups and activities. Offering over 10,000 activities, events and experiences across the 45 sites in Suffolk – from baby bounce to wellbeing clubs and even live gigs – libraries really have become the heart of the community.

Providing a service that exists purely for the benefit of its residents, Suffolk Libraries is a truly remarkable charity. Having stepped up to offer a crucial source of support, comfort and advice during the pandemic, they continue to meet the needs of local people as the current cost of living crisis develops, offering a place where people can connect and feel less isolated. Their work with local communities to develop ever more services to meet their needs is astonishing and, almost everything they do is free and accessible to all – you don’t even need a library card!

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