The library sector is celebrating today after seven public library services across the UK were awarded a share of £2.1 billion from Round 2 of government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund.
Successful bids include a combined library, music and arts venue in Harlow, a state-of-the-art leisure centre, library and cultural space in Farnborough, a creative workspace and redesign at Hackney Central Library and a new modern library in Reading. In total over £135m has been awarded to projects involving libraries.
The aim of the Levelling Up Fund is to provide greater investment in communities that will create new jobs, drive economic growth, help restore people’s pride in the places where they live, and spread opportunity more equally.
Isobel Hunter MBE, chief executive of Libraries Connected, said:
“We’re thrilled for all the libraries that were successful in this very competitive process, and extend our commiserations to those who weren’t awarded funds this time.”
“Libraries been levelling up for over 170 years so it seems natural that they should feature so prominently on this list of successful projects. With so many benefits for literacy, health, culture, digital inclusion and business, libraries have a crucial role to play in tackling place-based inequalities.”
But the charity - which represents public libraries in England, Wales and Norther Ireland - warned that the Levelling Up Fund did not make up for real terms cuts in local authority budgets and called for a more sustainable funding model for libraries.
“Without a more secure long term financial settlement, many councils have no option but to consider making cuts to frontline public services, including libraries. We need Government to take decisive action now to avoid a crisis in our libraries over the coming years.”
Download the full list of successful bids (ods file)