Libraries Connected exists to advocate for the power of libraries, to demonstrate their importance to individuals and communities, and to support library leaders.
Our members benefit from being part of a national body that supports and advocates for their services and provides a forum to share best practice and key learning. At the same time our regional network offers members support from their peers and a forum to share experiences and practice outside of their local authority.
We are committed to working alongside our members to broker partnerships that help develop informed, practical, long-term solutions to the challenges faced by library services across the country.
We are funded by the Arts Council as the sector support organisation for libraries in England. This gives us the capacity to develop our Universal Offers and lead new strategic projects to benefit all public libraries in England.
As a national membership organisation, we are ideally placed to bid for strategic projects that improve the situation for libraries at a structural level. We are building a programme to drive change and improve support for individual libraries that includes:
- Our Libraries Blueprint project in partnership with CILIP will look at how we deliver and support public libraries in England by turning to systems in other countries for inspiration and ultimately broker new funding settlements with government.
- Our regional support project will set out what a robust and impactful support offer for libraries could look like so we can go out and fundraise for this. This project will also work with our regional networks to develop their capacity to deliver collaborative strategic projects and to unlock and share the expertise that sits within individual library services.
- We are also exploring the idea of quality standards and how to better define the Libraries Act to encourage services to continue to aspire to high standards and innovation.
We have developed several new sections of our website to give libraries the information they need to support their work and a national platform to promote their services. These include:
- Toolkits and e-learning section which draws together training resources relevant to libraries from a range of providers
- Value of libraries section with key facts and quotes about libraries in the UK as well as case studies of innovative library practice
- Major events calendar which showcases the range of exciting activities that are happening in libraries.
In addition to these services which are available to everyone, our members receive additional benefits.
National funding opportunities
As a national membership body, Libraries Connected can secure funding to support library leaders, staff and projects around the country. These include programmes in England such as Leading Libraries which aims to drive diversity in library leadership, the year-long BBC Novels reading campaign and the consultation on an accreditation scheme for libraries.
National advocacy platform
Membership of Libraries Connected means that our members are part of the national voice for libraries, with improved access to government decision makers. Membership provides a vital link between library sector leaders and key strategic partners such as Arts Council England, DCMS, Libraries Taskforce, Local Government Association, The Reading Agency, Carnegie UK and British Library. Our advisory group, which involves members from each region and our Universal Offer chairs, also gives members the chance to inform and influence our national agenda.
Training and development
Learning Pool is our flagship training portal, offering free courses to our members in England on digital skills, working with children and young people, Reading Well Books on Prescription and reader development, among others. We also provide bursaries to library staff to attend national events such as the open internet festival Mozfest and our annual seminar (in partnership with Carnegie UK), and curate member events such as the Innovation Network gathering to share learning and practice.
National and regional network
Our national annual seminar brings together library leaders and key partners to network and learn from leading professionals working in the UK and abroad. Our Innovation Network and our weekly email updates provide members with the opportunity to find out what’s happening around the country, to share and improve practice and to discuss ideas and issues with an expert audience. Our regional meetings give our members the chance to share information and work across local authority lines and are a valuable support network of fellow professionals.
Libraries Connected is committed to ensuring that libraries are sustainable in the long term by brokering national relationships with a wide range of organisations and bidding for grants to develop new services and improve our existing offer. We manage the tender process, and provide project management, administrative and communications support for successful bids. We currently hold two government subcontracts for the delivery of assisted digital services in libraries. These opportunities enable libraries to continue to expand the service that they provide to their local communities. They also help to reinforce the position of libraries as a vital, essential resource within a competitive local environment.