The next 12 months will see libraries face the challenges of reopening post lockdown, rebuilding relationships with service users in physical spaces, grappling with the challenges of keeping staff and users safe and contributing to the community recovery challenges that we emerge over the coming months and years.
The Universal Library Offer workplan reflects some of these issues as well as responding to ongoing societal issues around race and equality.
The Universal Library Offer plans are created by regional representatives coming together to create national teams. These teams are led by:
- Sue Ball, Staffordshire Libraries: Health and Wellbeing (in partnership with The Reading Agency)
- Liz McMillan, Slough Libraries: Culture and Creativity
- Catherine Mann, Staffordshire Libraries: Reading (in partnership with The Reading Agency)
- Dave Lloyd, Coventry Libraries: Information and Digital
Health and Wellbeing
The team will deliver projects to help libraries to respond to issues around loneliness and bereavement and health information. For example, creating a digital health information toolkit and webinar, building a strong partnership with the Social Prescribing Academy and support for rolling out Death Positive Libraries. Already this year the Health and Wellbeing group have published a children’s wellbeing Recovery Framework and Action plan.
Culture and Creativity
The team will explore the role of arts and culture in offering escape and reconnection as well as supporting local artists. This includes a pilot programme with the INN CROWD for Arts touring in libraries, and a pilot project with the Family Arts Campaign for 10 library services to work towards the Family Arts or Age Friendly Standards.
We are planning a Reading Round Table for the Autumn and a toolkit to establish virtual poetry reading groups for lonely, isolated and bereaved people to mark National Poetry Day 2021. We are also working on proposals with a team of library staff to explore inclusive and diverse practices in libraries.
Information and Digital
Digital services have become hugely significant in the past year, and in this plan, there are projects to widen access to digital engagement and support the workforce. We are continuing to support the development of a single digital presence for libraries led by the British Library, creating a digital buddies’ network and writing a new information literacy module for Learning Pool.
Programmes and projects supporting children are reflected throughout the plans linking to the Children’s Promise and connections to the Vision and Print Impaired People’s Promise are also included.
We have identified funding to improve management and delivery of the Universal Library Offers by recruiting a part-time project manager and are planning a scoping project to look at libraries and the levelling up agenda and how we can evidence success.
The summary of the plan highlights new projects identified by Libraries Connected and by the Universal Library Offer groups. It also lists potential partner projects and ongoing work.
This is an exciting programme of work and we will be sharing more about the individual projects as they develop.