Arts Council and LGA announce the Libraries Development Initiative

Published on Thursday, 10 November 2011 11:06
Posted by Scott Buckler

Arts Council England and the Local Government Association (LGA), have announced the Libraries Development Initiative, a £200,000 fund that will build on the MLA and LGA's Future Libraries Programme to ensure libraries are at the heart of society, valued by local communities and providing access to information, life-long learning and culture in a shared and trusted place

The Libraries Development Initiative was developed in partnership with the LGA, and will support around 10 projects for one year, from March 2012 until March 2013, with a maximum award of £20,000 per project.

Successful projects will explore how embedding arts and culture in libraries can bring benefits to library users and library services and increase cultural provision in local areas. Projects will also look at new ways of working that will enhance libraries' sustainability and relevance as vibrant hubs in their local communities.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said:

"Libraries should be at the very heart of our society; where they are valued by local communities as a shared and trusted space for culture, information and learning. We have designed this initiative to draw on the existing strengths of libraries, but also to enable them to think creatively about new ways of delivering and developing their services.

"The Libraries Development Initiative marks an important first step in our exploration, with the sector, of just what a dynamic, sustainable 21st century public library might look like."

Cllr Chris White, Chair of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:

"Libraries are among the most valued services provided by councils: people of all ages and backgrounds see them as vital to their local community and are understandably protective of them. However, they need to reflect our digital age and there is great potential to modernise them in ways which better engage our younger generation, don't alienate existing users and make the most of our diminished resources.

"A library in the 21st century can be part of a cultural hub which supports everything from education and lifelong learning to health, volunteering, art projects, job hunting and social care. The Libraries Development Initiative is a great way to build on the innovative ideas put forward as part of the Future Libraries Programme. We need to ensure all the enthusiasm and creativity council staff have to transform their libraries becomes a reality."

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said:

"The Libraries Development Initiative is an excellent opportunity for forward-looking library authorities to explore innovative ways of getting the best out of the services they offer. Libraries are of course about books and reading, but through forging the right partnerships they can find new ways of acting as a gateway to learning, culture, skills, health and many other areas that can greatly benefit people's lives."

The first stage of the initiative is for an organisation, or a consortium, to complete an expression of interest form that explores one of the designated parts of the initiative. These are:

Part 1: new delivery models for arts and culture working together. This will look at new ways that libraries can work with arts and cultural organisations, with the aim of improving a community's experience and its opportunities for engaging with arts and culture locally.

Part 2: coordinating partnerships to achieve wider community outcomes. This will explore how libraries can expand their already established role in the local delivery of a wide range of national policy areas such as learning, skills and employability and health, through multi-disciplinary partnerships with, for example, other local authority departments, community groups, job centres and arts and cultural organisations.

Part 3: books and reading. This will explore the challenge for libraries to ensure their books and reading offer remains engaging, relevant and exciting in the changing context of more active library user involvement and the different ways people access reading material.

Part 4: commercial partnerships. This will consider how libraries can respond to increasing economic challenges in an innovative way, exploring diverse funding streams and the benefits of a resilient mixed economy.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to complete a full application, and will be contacted by 12 December 2011. Final applications will be submitted by 20 January 2012, with the successful projects announced on 13 February 2012.


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