Carnegie Library Lab: 200K boost to public libraries in UK and Ireland

August 11, 2014

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Public Libraries across the UK and Ireland are being given the opportunity to help future-proof their services thanks to a £200,000 funding boost from the Carnegie UK Trust.  

The three year funding programme, ‘Carnegie Library Lab’ will create partnerships with up to 15 public libraries to support innovative practice and show that book lending is only one of many services that libraries can deliver. 

The initiative will also pilot a new programme of online learning material to encourage innovation and leadership amongst library staff. This resource will be developed using material from the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) initiative run by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Foundation’s Global Libraries programme. 

The Carnegie name is synonymous with support for public libraries and Carnegie Library Lab has been launched to continue this long history. It follows the Carnegie UK Trust’s 2012 report on the future of libraries, which found that communities have a real desire for libraries to remain open. Over 60% of those surveyed had used a library in previous 12 months. 

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK Trust said: “Public Libraries have come under scrutiny in recent years with reporting on funding cuts and closures. Despite this, libraries are essential sources for learning and information, and they contribute towards community wellbeing. But times are changing and libraries need to be thinking more about how they can future-proof their services. Carnegie Library Lab will provide funding, training and mentoring to help libraries utilise their space in new ways and develop their service and how they deliver it.”  

One scheme which is already proving that libraries are about more than just books is Get It Loud In Libraries which, for the last nine years, has drawn an audience of over 28,000 people into libraries across the UK. Through live music it has created exciting opportunities for young people to lead, participate and volunteer.

Stewart Parsons, project manager for Loud In Libraries, who has also previously participated in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s funded INELI programme, said: “Being firstly selected for, and secondly learning and developing professional skills  on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s funded International Network of Emerging Innovators was a  huge privilege. I cannot commend the training we received highly enough. The strategy for online learning and research; class learning and communicating with peers from across the world in high class venues worked productively and taught me a lot about how to train staff creatively and efficiently with a  grown-up two-way dialogue between both innovator and trainer.

“I have huge faith in the Carnegie Trust to replicate a successful model and allow the dissemination of INELI to reach beyond the original template and benefit innovative library staff across the UK and Ireland.”

Any librarian applying for the funding must submit an innovative idea that finds a new way of using library space; demonstrates a new way of delivering a public library service; brings new activities to the library; or involves an innovative partnership.

Carnegie UK Trust has been working with a number of different public libraries on trial projects as part of their Enterprising Libraries initiative.

Funding decisions will be made in 2014 and 2016, with projects taking place between 2014 and 2017. Application will be accepted between 1 September and 30 September 2014. For more information on how to apply please click here.