Libraries hold the key to improving local economies

December 4, 2014

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The Carnegie UK Trust is today releasing findings on how libraries can contribute to local economies.

The Trust has a long standing history of supporting the public library system. Its founder, Andrew Carnegie, was best known for investing in public libraries and left a lasting legacy to extend equality of opportunity through learning.

This new report Enterprising Libraries draws on learning from four local projects in England and Wales that explored creative ways of encouraging enterprise and digital skills development. The four local projects were:

  • Gateshead Library’s series of workshops in partnership with local digital companies including Ubisoft, Makerspace in Newcastle, and local enterprise bodies.
  • Northamptonshire Libraries’ secondment and mentoring pilot to support other lo-cal authorities to create enterprise hubs in libraries in the way that was developed successfully in Northamptonshire.
  • Neath Port Talbot Library’s Technoclubs with primary and secondary schoolchil-dren, wherein children learned how to build and programme Lego Mindstorm ro-bots, and  use Scratch software and App Inventor.
  • St Botolph’s Waiting Room project in Colchester. While not involving a public library, there is much to be learned from this exciting approach to stimulating creativity, which includes a hack/maker space and a ‘give-get’ library.

Jenny Peachey, the report author, says: “Libraries can play an important role in enhancing economic wellbeing in diverse and innovative ways. The four projects depict exciting and inspiring spaces populated with individuals that are keen to enable and support their users and contribute to a forward-thinking library service. At a time when both libraries and the communities they work with are facing economically challenging times, this report is a reminder that enabling libraries is to enable the communities and individuals they work both with and for. ”

The report outlines success factors, common challenges and recommendations for Heads of Public Library Service, professional organisations and national bodies involved with Public Libraries, and Government. The recommendations include developing mechanisms for sharing good practice and innovation, and developing training for library staff around partnership working, collaboration, innovation and networking.

To view our new report please click here.

For more information about our work with libraries, please click here.