Thursday, 11 September 2014

Celebrating Public Libraries and Supporting Innovation



Public Libraries across the UK and Ireland are being given the opportunity to help future-proof their services thanks to a £200,000 funding boost from the Carnegie UK Trust.

‘Carnegie Library Lab’ will create partnerships with up to 15 public libraries to support innovative practice and show that book lending is only one of many services that libraries can deliver. We're really looking forward to talking about Library Lab at Saturday's LibraryCamp and Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer at the Carnegie UK Trust has kindly written a guest blog post to introduce the thinking behind this exciting project...

When considering the contribution public libraries make to society, it is difficult to know where to
start. Many public libraries across the UK and Ireland are refusing to stand still in an ever-changing
world and, as a result, there are many examples of good practice to choose from. The Carnegie UK
Trust seeks to support the culture of innovation that enables libraries to seek out new services and
partnerships to move ever-forward.

Many libraries are making a contribution to digital inclusion. For example, Gateshead runs digital
careers events, enabling members of the public to experience new technologies first hand, learn
new skills and have direct contact with digital sector employees. At the opposite end of England,
Devon hosts FabLab - a hack-maker space extraordinaire - a community-led workspaces where
people with common interests meet to work together and exchange ideas.
But it's not just digital endeavours (or indeed reading for pleasure) where libraries are making their
mark.

Libraries support small business start-ups, lend smart meters and run job clubs. They also act
as social, learning and cultural hubs, fostering wellbeing: consider Birmingham public libraries'
book lists for young people and adults with dyslexia; Surrey Libraries’ project to support women
experiencing domestic abuse; Northern Ireland-based run knit and natter groups (which help tackle
social isolation); Book Prescription Wales (a partnership between NHS and public libraries to help
patients with mild to moderate mental health issues); and the various partnerships between libraries
and Age Concern, Macmillan Cancer Support and Dementia UK (to name but a few).

The Carnegie UK Trust is keen to enhance libraries' flexibility to respond to the needs and wants of
communities in innovative ways. We are therefore delighted to have launched a new programme to
help support innovation in public libraries: Carnegie Library Lab. This new programme aims to add to
the mix of initiatives and support for innovation in libraries.

We will support up to 15 library staff over the next three years through providing funding, learning
materials, mentoring and the opportunity to be part of a new network of library innovators. More
information and application materials are available on our website. The deadline for applications is
30 September.

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