A New Chapter – Discussion Paper

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Author: Liz Macdonald

Year: 2012

A New Chapter – Public Library Services in the 21st Century

The Trust, with its long history of support for the public library system has not been actively involved in this area since 1950, but the level of concern about the future of public libraries has prompted us to revisit this area. The Trust commissioned research throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland which shows that people still love their libraries – but the Trust argues that public libraries can’t stand still in a changing world: 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.

The research provides data about levels of use, and frequency of use of libraries in all five jurisdictions, about people’s attitude to public libraries, and about the things which people say would encourage them to make more use of public libraries.

The Trust has published:

  • 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.  Click on the image above to open the paper.


  • A full report of this research, and its review of the policy landscape. Click here to access this.
  • A factsheet for each of the jurisdictions (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) containing more detail from the research are available on our publications page. Please click here to return to the publications page.


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