Celebrating the Carnegie Legacy in 2017

June 14, 2017

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by Jenny Peachey, Senior Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

On 19 June in London, CILIP will be celebrating the 80th anniversary of the CILIP-Carnegie Medal – the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book awards. Meanwhile, here in Dunfermline, the community is celebrating the recent reopening of the world’s first ever Carnegie Library.

Rooted in history as they are, the CILIP-Carnegie Medal and Carnegie Library nevertheless continue to promote reading for pleasure among children today. We know from The Reading Agency that this is an endeavour that reaps a range of rewards: reading for pleasure can increase empathy, improve relationships with others and improve wellness throughout life.

We are proud to encourage the joy of reading through our continued support of the CILIP-Carnegie Medal. But this is just one of the ways the Carnegie UK Trust is continuing to support Andrew Carnegie’s legacy on public libraries.

No longer a grant-giving trust, we now engage in innovative policy and practice work in order to deliver change for and through the library sector. Most recently, we conducted research into how people use public libraries and what they think of them across the UK and Ireland. We found that across the board around one in two of us use public libraries and of those users, two in five use the library at least once a month. Meanwhile people are far more likely to say the library is important to their community (around 3/4) than to themselves personally (2/5) or to use them in practice (1/2). We plan to use our findings to help us plan our work in the public library sector over the next five years.

We’ve also worked with partners to lead the development of Scotland’s first national strategy for public libraries; investigate the best ways of measuring the unquestionable but diffuse impact of public libraries; and run a library hackathon to open up data to enable young people to reimagine the role and function of public libraries. We support the development of leadership and innovation through Carnegie Library Lab and are enabling libraries to experiment with public engagement methodologies through our partnership programme with the Wellcome Trust – ‘Engaging Libraries’. There is also our advocacy resource – Speaking Volumes – a leaflet that folds out into a poster accompanied by a series of databases that give examples of how public libraries contribute to social, economic, education and cultural policy goals.

There’s no question that this is a time of change for all of us and the library sector is no exception to this. The sector also holds the key to some of the solutions and we look forward to continuing to support libraries into the future.

The newly reopened Carnegie Library in Dunfermline is also the world’s oldest Carnegie Library. Pictures by Gina Wilson