The Future of Public Libraries

In September 2013, the Trust was delighted to host a seminar with Nate Hill of Chattanooga Library on 'Rapid Library Transformation'. You can watch a short interview with Nate which captures many of the points covered in the seminar.

In 2014 the Trust is continuing our major programme of activity on the future of public libraries. We're developing new partnerships with pioneers who are re-imagining the libraries of the future.

In early summer we will be sharing the results of our four case studies, showcasing  the essential link between libraries and economic wellbeing. We continue to argue for clear national strategies, and we aim to help set out a new vision for library leadership and innovation.

We will be publishing a document showing the impact public libraries have, or can have, on key indicators of individual and community wellbeing. We hope this will be widely used to advocate for the continuing role of public libraries in local communities.

Our regular enewsletter keeps you up-to-date with what we are doing on public libraries.

During 2013 the Trust worked  to support the case for national visions and national strategies for the public library service in each jurisdiction, but particularly in Scotland, and this will continue in 2014. 

Past work

In 2012 the Trust commissioned research in the UK and the Republic of Ireland which shows that people still love their libraries – but the public library service is at a crossroads and change is needed to respond to reduced levels of public spending, the challenges and opportunities of the digital age, and changes in people’s lifestyles and patterns of behaviour.

Click below for:

  • A full report of this research, and its review of the policy landscape.
  •  A discussion paper which sets out the main questions which we believe need to be answered in all the jurisdictions within the UK and Ireland to move towards a public library service fit for the 21st century.
  • A factsheet for each of the jurisdictions (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) containing more detail from the research.

This research builds on a 2011 briefing paper which outlines the Trust’s history of supporting public libraries and how the Trust might re-engage in the policy debate on access to knowledge and the future of the public library service in the UK and Ireland.


For more information about our work on libraries contact Liz Macdonald

In August 2012, the Trust sponsored a series of events around libraries at the Scottish Parliament's annual Festival of Politics.  To find out more and for video/audio of our events, please click here.

In October 2013, the Trust ran a seminar called Public Libraries: Reimagining Carnegie as part of Andrew Carnegie's International Legacy festival.  You can listen to the seminar here.

We issue enewsletters about our work on the future of libraries. You can view previous newsletters here:

February 2014

June 2013

To sign up, please email