A new initiative has been launched to establish a stronger future for public libraries across England. Led by Libraries Connected and CILIP, the project will explore different options for how libraries could be funded, managed and delivered in the years ahead.
An initial scoping study is being backed by the Carnegie UK Trust – the foundation set up by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose money built over 600 libraries in the UK and more than 2000 worldwide.
The study will gather the views of key stakeholders and will look at contrasting models for public library delivery internationally, including those found in Northern Ireland, Australia, USA, Holland and Finland. These countries all have a strong public library ethos but their services are delivered, managed and funded in different ways.
The results of the study will be available next year and will inform a funding bid for a major transformation programmme beginning summer 2019.
Mark Freeman, President, Libraries Connected:
‘Many library services have faced significant cuts over the past few years and we are determined to do everything we can to protect existing services. This project gives us the opportunity to deliver a strategic, long term solution to secure the future of public libraries in partnership with CILIP and Carnegie UK Trust.’
Nick Poole, CEO, CILIP:
‘It is time for a library renaissance, where much-loved public libraries are revitalised and transformed through investment to create scalable and inclusive services. We want to transform lives through modern libraries in communities across the country. I would like to thank Carnegie UK Trust for funding this first, important stage towards making this a reality, and Libraries Connected for partnering with us to create a bright future for our libraries and communities.’
Martyn Evans, CEO, Carnegie UK Trust:
‘Public libraries are incredibly highly valued – more than three-quarters of us say they are vital to our local community. But they are also experiencing a range of pressures - and in times when people’s needs and expectations are changing rapidly, and public monies are less readily available, libraries need to identify how they can respond to these demands most effectively. Part of this debate is to identify the best funding and governance arrangements for the library service and we look forward to working with partners to identify a number of options.’
The need for public libraries has never been stronger: last year over 204m library visits were made in England. Libraries continue to have a hugely influential and positive effect on people’s lives and their communities.