During 2013 the Trust is working in three main areas, following the publication of research in 2012.
1. We will be working to support the case for national visions and national strategies for the public library service in each jurisdiction, but particularly in Scotland.
2. We want to add value to existing understanding of the wide impact public libraries can have on the key indicators of individual and community wellbeing. Work started on collecting evidence for this piece of work, which will continue into 2014.
3. Stimulating debate about the library of the future. Under this heading, we have the Enterprising Libraries project, as well as other activity.
3a. Enterprising Libraries
We are working with four projects to explore the potential and impact of libraries in promoting economic wellbeing by supporting the creation of enterprise, or by supporting people to improve their prospects of employment through the development of new skills.
The four projects we are working with are:
Gateshead Library, which is running a series of workshops in partnership with local digital companies including Ubisoft, Makerspace in Newcastle, and local enterprise bodies.
Northamptonshire Libraries which is piloting a secondment and mentoring model to support other local authorities to use the approach to creating enterprise hubs in libraries which has been developed successfully in Northamptonshire.
Neath Port Talbot Library, which will run two Technoclubs with primary and secondary schoolchildren, learning how to build and programme Lego Mindstorm robots, and running sessions on the use of Scratch software, and App Inventor. Library staff will be trained as part of this project.
St Botolph's Waiting Room project in Colchester. While not involving a public library, there will be much to be learned from this exciting approach to stimulating creativity, which will include a hack/maker space and a 'give-get' library.
3b. Other activities
On 25 September we hosted a seminar with Nate Hill, Assistant Director of Chattanooga Library, on library transformation and the exciting work which has been happening in the library at Chattanooga.
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.