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Programme launched to support innovative health and wellbeing projects in public libraries

April 4, 2017

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A new £150k programme, Engaging Libraries, has been launched to support innovative public library projects across the UK and Ireland which place creative and imaginative public engagement ideas and health and wellbeing at their heart.

The programme is led by Carnegie UK Trust working in partnership with Wellcome, the world’s largest medical research charity.   It will help public libraries bring people together with the aim of inspiring curiosity, sparking debate and creating conversations on health and wellbeing.

Libraries are encouraged to think broadly about potential themes and activities which may be suitable for funding – projects might seek to engage people on issues like understanding how the brain works, exploring how to cope with a long term illness, or sharing experiences of IVF treatment through engaging. Activities might include exhibitions, film screenings, performances or the development of digital tools.

The one-year Engaging Libraries project will run from October 2017 and the £150k programme will support up to ten projects.

Applications will be open from 2 May until 23 August 2017.  Library staff interested in applying are invited to a workshop where they can receive further information and support to develop ideas.  These will be held in London on 9 and 10 May and in Dunfermline on 18 May 2017.

Carnegie UK Trust’s founder, Andrew Carnegie, built over 600 libraries across the UK and Republic of Ireland and the Trust continues to deliver a wide range of programmes to support public libraries.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Public libraries provide a safe, trusted space at the hearts of communities. They are well placed for engaging the public in health and wellbeing and already make a significant positive contribution to the cultural and physical health of communities. We are excited to be working with Wellcome to develop and deliver a new programme that builds on the existing assets of public libraries.”

Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture and Society, Wellcome said: “We are delighted to be working with Carnegie UK Trust to support libraries to try new ways of engaging the public with health and wellbeing topics. Libraries are a much loved and important part of every community, providing a unique space for people to learn, explore and discuss the world around them. We’re excited to see what creative ideas emerge.”

Neil MacInnes, President, Society for Chief Libraries and a member of the project advisory group said: “The Engaging Libraries initiative is a great opportunity for libraries to be creative and experimental in designing a health and wellbeing engagement activity that they have not have tried before.  Libraries are becoming increasingly innovative in how they meet the challenges they face, and we look forward to receiving an inspiring range of ideas from applicants across the country.”

For more information about the programme please click here.  The application pack will be available via the project web page from 2 May 2017.