The Brief

Carnegie Library Lab was an experimental programme aimed at supporting and developing innovation and leadership in the public library sector across the UK and Ireland.

Carnegie Library Lab supported both professional and personal development, and innovative practice, through practical project work. The programme worked with three small cohorts of early to mid-career individuals (Carnegie Partners) for 18 months at a time. The programme ran from 2014-2020 and offered:

  • financial support to develop and deliver an innovative, practical project in their local library service and ‘learn through doing’;
  • a bespoke online learning programme covering topics such as innovation and creativity, leadership, power and hierarchy and change and transition;
  • an external mentor to assist with personal, professional and project development;
  • networking opportunities including face-to-face meetings and an online platform; and
  • input from external evaluators to support evaluation.

The online learning programme has now been adapted as a freely available self-directed learning experience for all, called Stepping into Leadership. The development materials for leadership and innovation are open to all and free to access on CILIP’s website.

Subjects covered include: creativity and innovation; influencing skills and power; systems and complexity; leading transformation; and continuing development.

You can read about our previous Carnegie Partners’ experiences in our Project Snapshot reports:

Cohort 3 Final Project Snapshot

Cohort 2 Final Project Snapshot

Cohort 1 Final Project Snapshot

We are keen to share the benefits and impact of Carnegie Library Lab to inspire others to consider this type of working with the public library sector. The Carnegie Library Lab: Reflections on a Programme for Public Libraries 2014-20 publication reflects on what is helpful to take into consideration in the design and delivery of a programme of this nature, and may also be of interest to people considering applying to a similar programme.

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