Imagination and collaboration: the benefits of working with others

August 22, 2019

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By Rachel Heydecker, Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

Imagination and collaboration: the benefits of working with others

Our Engaging Libraries Phase 2 programme is currently open for applications for public libraries across the UK. This blog describes why collaboration and partnerships are such an important part of the programme. The deadline for completed applications is Wednesday 25 September.

Engaging Libraries Phase 2 provides public libraries across the UK with an opportunity to develop and deliver public engagement projects on research in health, society and culture. Through collaboration with a researcher, the programme aims to give people the opportunity to access, use and challenge – or be challenged by – research on health, society and culture in the trusted space of a public library.

Public libraries are in the business of connecting people and ideas – it is part of their core ethos. For researchers at a university or an Independent Research Organisation, introducing their findings to new audiences and engaging with people outside academia can improve the quality of their research and its use. Engaging Libraries Phase 2 encourages collaboration which will have benefits for both public libraries and researchers.

Benefits for public libraries

Working with researchers and universities can allow public libraries to learn from new ideas and experiment with new approaches. Working in partnership can also attract new audiences to the library and expand their network. We also hope that Engaging Libraries Phase 2 will allow libraries to build on their core ethos of connecting people with new ideas and to one another in a safe and trusted space.

Benefits for researchers

Public libraries have a lot to offer researchers – they are gateways to communities, and staff are experienced and skilled in delivering activities for diverse groups of people. For researchers, working in communities gives them an opportunity to share their findings with new audiences, or find out how different groups make sense of their research. Many researchers believe it is important for publicly funded research to be accessible to the public and believe that engagement with those outside of academia can improve the quality of their research and its use.

Collaboration with other partners

Engaging Libraries Phase 2 also encourages public libraries to collaborate with other partners to make their project come alive and deliver creative public engagement activities. We encourage public libraries to think broadly and innovatively about who to collaborate with – it could be an individual such as an artist, musician or comedian, or a group such as a local school or a charity.

About collaboration in Engaging Libraries Phase 2

In Engaging Libraries Phase 2, there is a specific requirement for public libraries to partner with a researcher or team of researchers at a university or Independent Research Organisation. This partnership can be at any stage of development when you apply – we are open to whether you have a research partner in place or not and it will not affect how favourably your application is considered, as long as you acknowledge the need to partner with researcher and show how your project will meet the primary criteria.

We can offer support during the application process to identify a potential research partner, which is provided by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). If you apply without identifying a research partner and are selected, we can offer support via NCCPE to find a suitable partner after selection. We have built a development period of 3-6 months in to the start of the Engaging Libraries programme to provide the time and space for partnership development.

For more information on collaboration, a recent blog on our website by Sophie Duncan from NCCPE looks at how public libraries might approach partnerships with researchers.

Contact us

The Engaging Libraries team are always very happy to talk through ideas – we are Jenny, Rachel and Georgina and you can contact us over email at [email protected] or phone on 01383 721445.  We look forward to hearing from you!