Future of Public Libraries Research launched

November 16, 2011

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Against a background of a reduction in the number of library users, and increasing concerns about the effect on library services of cuts in public spending, the Trust has commissioned research on library use and attitudes to library services.  The findings will contribute to the development of a clear Trust policy position on the future role of public libraries and help us to consider how the Trust can support the debate on how these services can be most effectively provided. 

Over nearly forty years, the Trust continued Andrew Carnegie’s commitment to support the establishment of public libraries, with 660 libraries across the UK and Ireland being set up by the time the Trust ended this policy in 1950.   

Carnegie UK Trust Chief Executive, Martyn Evans, says library users’ needs may be very different now compared with the past, but the Trust’s commitment to help give people access to knowledge and learning is as great as ever:

“The Carnegie UK Trust has considerable convening power to bring together the people involved in an issue such as the future of public libraries. 

“Alongside groups like library professional bodies, advisory bodies, service providers and service users, we want to now examine the role of libraries in supporting access to knowledge in the 21st century, and how we meet the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

The full report can be found here.

Dunfermline library was the first to benefit from Andrew Carnegie’s grants to public libraries, when he gave £8000 for the creation of a public library in 1883.  Before the creation of the Carnegie UK Trust, Andrew Carnegie funded 348 libraries in the UK and Ireland.  The Trust continued this work, and funded a further 312 libraries before closing this programme in 1950.

The Trust has worked closely with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals since 1936 through its sponsorship of the Carnegie Medal for Children’s Literature.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York, a sister organisation of the Carnegie UK Trust, continues to support the creation of public and university libraries in Africa.