Department for Culture Media and Sport

library development

Arts Council England initiatives

Arts Council England is leading a programme of research and debate, ‘Envisioning the library of the future’, to help develop a long-term vision for public libraries in England.

The Arts Council has allocated an extra £6 million in Grants for the arts funding for libraries, which opened to applications in September 2012 and will be available until March 2015. The funding will support projects that stimulate ambitious and innovative partnerships between libraries and artists and/or arts organisations, encouraging communities to participate in cultural activities. Public libraries can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £100,000 covering activities lasting up to three years.

The Libraries Development Initiative run by the Arts Council in association with the Local Government Association is designed to test new approaches to library service delivery, these projects are looking at ways libraries can work together with arts and other cultural organisations to enrich the way that people experience arts and culture. They explore innovative, locally appropriate and enterprising ways of working, resulting in a resilient vision for future public library services.

Library cards

During the 2012-13 academic year, Arts Council England, the Department for Education and DCMS are piloting automatic library membership for primary school pupils, to encourage them to use their local library. We are piloting different approaches to test the most effective ways of supporting children and their families to use their libraries and read more widely.

There are 22 projects, which are located in: Barking and Dagenham; Barnet; Brent; Brighton & Hove; Bristol; Havering; Lewisham; Medway; Norfolk Library and Information Service and School Library Service; Northamptonshire; Plymouth; Portsmouth; Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead; Sandwell; South Gloucestershire; Staffordshire; Surrey; Thurrock; Waltham Forest; Wiltshire; Worcestershire; and York.

For more information about the projects, please see the Arts Council’s website.

Comparative data on library authorities

In June 2012 Ed Vaizey announced a new initiative between the Department and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). New comparative profile reports have been developed by CIPFA to benchmark public library services against comparable authorities. The comparative reports will help library authorities ensure they are delivering a good level of service and review any areas for improvement. The reports compare each authority to 15 similar authorities across a wide range of indicators, including:  library usage; financial information; levels of staffing; the number of volunteers; loans figures; stock levels; and book acquisitions. The data is taken from CIPFA’s annual libraries survey for 2011-12 and will allow authorities – and anyone else with an interest in libraries – to compare their services with those of similar councils, known as their “nearest neighbours”. 

This allows authorities to compare ‘like with like’ when considering the delivery of their library services.

We have commissioned the 2011-12 comparative profile reports for all library authorities in England, which are available on CIPFA’s website.