Libraries Connected today announce a vital new initiative to clearly define what a high-quality library service looks like. They aim to develop and deliver an authoritative, sector-led scheme to help libraries in England to meet the needs of their local communities.
Libraries Connected has secured a grant of £128,456 from Arts Council England and will work closely with them and CILIP to develop the new framework. This is part of an overall programme of sector development outlined in the recent libraries blueprint report. Delivered collaboratively by Libraries Connected, CILIP and the Arts Council, this programme includes joint projects to update the Public Libraries Skills Strategy and to help drive diversity in library leadership.
This latest award comes after years of lobbying by CILIP and their members and so Libraries Connected are delighted to work with CILIP to steer this crucial work.
The scheme will ultimately help libraries assess how well they:
- Identify and monitor individual and community needs
- Develop resources, activities and services to meet these needs
- Are run and resourced to meet these needs.
Unlike the rest of the UK, public libraries in England have no set standards to support their planning or guide their decision making. Each local authority decides how it will deliver its responsibilities under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, which defines these responsibilities quite broadly.
This has led to significant variations in service and there is clear desire in the sector to address this situation. Heads of Library services want a system that will help libraries to improve their services and create a more consistent offer around the country.
Libraries Connected will work with the libraries sector, DCMS, local government and funders to develop a fit for purpose framework that has the support of all key partners. The process will include desk research and consultation to reach a model that supports an innovative and quality service.
Mark Freeman, President, Libraries Connected:
‘A definition of what makes a quality library service, based on local need, is crucial to helping libraries to improve and protect their services. I am delighted that Arts Council England has recognised the importance of this work and I thank them for this award which will make a huge difference to public libraries in England.’
Nick Poole, CEO, CILIP:
‘CILIP believes that public libraries are strongest when led locally, supported regionally and developed and promoted nationally. The golden thread which connects all of these elements is standards – ensuring that everyone has a clear definition to work from and ultimately that library users receive a consistently excellent library service, wherever they live. We are delighted to see this important initiative underway and look forward to supporting Libraries Connected with the work.’
Sue Williamson, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England:
‘The Arts Council is pleased to be involved in actively supporting this important piece of work that will aid greater understanding of what makes a good library service. It should enable public libraries to operate effectively in a national context as well as in the crucial hyper-local areas which make them such a relevant community service.’