Co-operative Principles and Membership Criteria

Suffolk Libraries IPS is registered mutual society and a member of Co-operatives UK.  Each of our library friends / community group is a member of Suffolk Libraries. The Rules of Suffolk Libraries includes the following statement

‘The society shall carry out its objects for public benefit in a manner that is conducive to the spirit and ethos of Co-operation’

Member groups agree to abide by the following values and principles in the operation and conduct of their organisation

A) Co-operative Principles

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organisations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organisations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

B) The Membership Criteria

  1. Work to maintain and promote the Suffolk library in your community (the “Library”) for the benefit of the public;
  2. Support library staff in Suffolk including at the Library;
  3. Promote the use of libraries in general for the benefit of the public by:
    a) developing co-operation between libraries and their communities;
    b) facilitating communication between local people and their local library;
    c) encouraging the use of the libraries by under-represented groups;
    d) helping to recruit and organise volunteers for specific purposes to support the Library;
    e) fundraising, obtaining sponsorship and donations
    f) helping to safeguard the future of libraries and develop innovations in service delivery.
  4. Have membership open to any individuals who are aged 18 or over and living / working / studying in the area of the Library or are an organisation that operates in the area of the Library.

[Point 4 can be deleted by member groups who are statutory authorities, usually parish / town councils]

C) The share requirement
To purchase 1 share in the Society at a value of £1 (Please note, shares in Suffolk’s Libraries IPS are not transferable or withdrawable, carry no right to interest, dividend or bonus and will be cancelled on cessation of membership).

[Note: All 44 member groups paid £1 for their share in Suffolk Libraries when they were formed so there is no need to pay the share requirement again]