Since taking part [in Sharing Stories] I have signed up the boys for library cards and have changed the direction of my career. I will now be studying, doing a BA in children's development.
We all know that public libraries change lives, but did you know that public engagement projects with higher education institutions (HEIs) can support this mission?
Between 2016-2021, Engaging Libraries supported public libraries across the UK to develop and deliver public engagement activities on health, society and culture. From 2019, the Engaging Libraries programme focused on public engagement with research, with public libraries partnering with universities to deliver a range of public engagement activities. An independent evaluation of this phase found that these projects can make a significant positive impact on the public and the library sector.
Engaging Libraries projects brought new audiences to libraries and helped people learn something new:
- A quarter (24%) of participants in Engaging Libraries were non-library members.
- 84% of members of the public who took part in public engagement activities agreed that it had made them more curious and 89% said it had made them think differently about a topic.
They helped public libraries explore their civic role, articulate their value and feel more confident in partnerships:
- Three quarters (75%) of those who took part in Engaging Libraries activities agreed they felt more comfortable exploring topics in a ‘library held space’ than elsewhere
- 88% of staff who took part in Engaging Libraries activities reported they feel better equipped to articulate the value of their library service as a direct result of the programme.
But we also found that many library services and HEIs aren’t aware of the benefits they can expect from this type of public engagement, or where to start.
To help libraries develop more and better public engagement activities together with HEIs, Carnegie UK and Libraries Connected have developed a new online toolkit aimed at people working in public libraries who are responsible for developing and delivering projects.
The toolkit includes:
- Case studies
- A 3-step guide to starting public engagement activities in libraries
- A map of higher education institutions who want to partner with libraries.
If you are curious about what public engagement with research is, if you want to find out more about the benefits to libraries, if you need inspiration for project ideas and pointers for where to find funding, if you’d like help approaching HEIs for partnership then this toolkit is for you.
Check it out online or download the PDF version and share it with colleagues. A Libraries Connected webinar on 26 April 2022, will provide an introduction to the toolkit and guidance on how to develop your own public engagement activities and partnerships so watch out for more information coming soon!
Engaging Libraries was a partnership between Carnegie UK and Wellcome. Wolfson Foundation joined the partnership for the second phase, from 2019-2021.