Libraries leading the way in exploring challenging issues

November 20, 2019

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  • The £500k programme will support 14 projects across 16 library services to partner with universities to engage their local communities with research
  • Projects will cover a wide variety of topics from fake news and air quality to the menopause and multilingualism

UK public libraries are to partner with universities from across the country to engage people with research on climate change, children’s literacy, culture and identity and more in creative and inspiring ways.

The £500k Engaging Libraries funding aims to cultivate new ideas, curiosity and critical thinking, and build on libraries’ core ethos of encouraging and sharing learning.

Almost half of all UK library services applied to take part in the Engaging Libraries programme, which is being delivered by the Carnegie UK Trust, Wellcome and the Wolfson Foundation. It builds on the successful Engaging Libraries pilot which ran during 2017-18.

The portfolio of funded projects includes citizen science experiments on air quality in Calderdale, menopause cafés in Fife and a joint project between library services in Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle exploring whether people’s attitudes to death change depending on where they live.

A total of 14 projects from the Western Isles to Cornwall will receive funding to deliver public engagement projects with research in health, society and culture, and to foster partnerships between public libraries and researchers.

Sarah Davidson, CEO of the Carnegie UK Trust said: “Engaging Libraries is all about giving people the opportunity to access, use and respond to research. Libraries have a unique position as trusted, safe spaces at the heart of our communities, and this programme is designed to help people explore new ideas and even play a role in influencing research.

“The process will also give university researchers a great opportunity to make connections between their ideas, research findings and the knowledge and experiences of local communities. We are really looking forward to working with all the winning projects.”

Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture & Society, Wellcome said: “We are delighted to be supporting a second phase of Engaging Libraries with the Wolfson Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust. We saw a strong demand from the library sector in how they could connect together people’s ideas and interests to research; we hope that this helps stimulate new partnerships and ideas and changes the way libraries can develop their social innovation role.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said: “We are delighted to be working in such fruitful partnership with Carnegie and Wellcome. These are important and intriguing projects, with a wonderful regional spread and tackling some complex, challenging, crucial issues for society. We also hope that these projects will act as exemplars for how public libraries and research institutions can work together.”

The 16 library services selected to be part of Engaging Libraries will undertake a three to six month development period, supported by the Engaging Libraries team and a bespoke programme of events and workshops to further develop and refine their project ideas before launching their activities.

To find out more about Engaging Libraries visit the Carnegie UK Trust website here.



For more information contact Nicole Anderson at Grayling on [email protected] or 0131 226 2363



The projects that will be participating in the Engaging Libraries programme are:

  • Calderdale Libraries ‐ Let’s Clear the Air ‐ learning to research, interpret and evaluate data to improve air quality
  • City of London Libraries ‐ Bumping Spaces
  • Cornwall Libraries ‐ AccessLab for Libraries
  • Fife Cultural Trust ‐ Pause not Full Stop
  • Glasgow Libraries ‐ Sharing Stories
  • Libraries NI ‐ Turning Heads: Hair as Culture and Identity
  • London Borough of Camden Libraries ‐ Place Shapers
  • London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Libraries ‐ Telling the Tale
  • London Borough of Sutton Libraries ‐ Navigating Information in the Era of Media Manipulation
  • Manchester City Council ‐ Language Diversity in the City
  • Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle Libraries ‐ Tickets for the Afterlife
  • Treorchy Library ‐ Fake News ‐ What is it and how to avoid it
  • West Lothian Council ‐ Lothian Lugs
  • Western Isles Libraries ‐ Together

The winning projects were selected with the input of an expert Advisory Group including representatives from CILIP the UK library and information association, Libraries Connected, Arts Council England, Scottish Libraries and Information Council, Research England and NCCPE.

The Carnegie UK Trust was established in 1913 by Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of people throughout the UK with regard to people who are disadvantaged. The 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.

Wellcome believes that everyone should have the opportunity to explore, challenge and shape science and health research, because health matters to everyone and everyone can play a role in improving it for themselves and society.

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities.