If you're unsure of the kinds of projects that could qualify for a Grants for the arts Libraries fund grant, please read our guidance on specific types of activity below which outlines some possible approaches.

Reading activities

Libraries can apply for the development and delivery of projects that support access to reading for pleasure for individuals and communities. Projects might include reading group activity, events, workshops, residencies and promotions. They might also help readers to enjoy and engage with a diverse range of literature. When we are assessing applications for reading development activity for quality, we prioritise projects that promote the reading of literary fiction, poetry and work in translation.

Libraries can apply for more generic reading development work as well as that targeting specific audiences, such as children and young people or communities requiring access support, eg emergent readers or those not yet comfortable with reading for pleasure.

It is important to note that our grants must be allocated to arts activity. Proposals for reading development activity must tell us how the activity will lead to more people reading literary work for pleasure, either immediately or in the longer term.

While improved literacy is a clear positive outcome of this type of project, we need to see the artistic aims and outcomes of the project - focused on literary work - to be able to consider it for funding.

A project might be designed to offer an accessible 'way in' to reading with a longer-term aim to build emergent readers up to enjoying literary work, for example. Applicants need to articulate this pathway approach and their reasoning clearly, if this is the case.

Reading-related projects focusing solely on non-fiction may struggle to score well against Grants for the arts criteria.

Work with, by or for children and young people

Library services may apply to the Libraries fund for activity focusing on engaging children and young people. We would encourage applicants to read our guidance sheet on Children & Young People and Learning that outlines some principles of best practice, and to contact their regional 'bridge' organisation where appropriate.

The Arts Council funds a network of 10 'bridge' organisations (as part of the National portfolio) that use their experience and expertise to connect schools and communities with National portfolio organisations and others in the cultural sector, including libraries and museums. Library services can contact a Relationship Manager via our Enquiries team on 0845 300 6200 to find out more about working with their regional bridge organisation. More information and a list of bridge organisations can be found here.

There are also many arts organisations that specialise in working with children and young people. You may wish to contact a Relationship Manager to discuss ways you might make links with these organisations to develop projects.

Digital activity

Libraries might wish to consider making an application for projects with a digital focus. This might be an activity that supports and enhances the distribution or reach of the arts, or a creative project that makes use of digital technology.

We assess projects with a digital focus against the same criteria as all other applications, with an emphasis on the project's impact for the wider arts sector and audiences. Even if a digital project is technologically innovative, it is important that applicants also clearly demonstrate the artistic quality of the proposed activity.

The digital sector is constantly developing both technologically and artistically. Applicants should demonstrate that they have thoroughly researched the area their project is happening in (social networking or smartphone applications, for example), current arts-related provision in that area, if appropriate, and how their project develops what is already available. Applicants should also show that they are working in collaboration with appropriate project partners.

Heritage-related activity

Public libraries often have strong links with their communities' heritage, with some holding historical collections and resources or co-located with museum and archive organisations. Grants for the arts prioritises contemporary artistic practice and developing the work of, and engagement with the work of, living artists. This is because our Lottery funding is allocated to spending on arts activity, and there are other Lottery distributing bodies that fund heritage-focused projects.

However, we do encourage activities that make links between contemporary art and heritage material, for example, museum collections, local history collections, oral history collections, and so on.

For example:

  • new artistic commissions, residencies, workshop programmes and other arts activities responding to historical material or collections
  • exhibitions showing contemporary art alongside historic work
  • acquiring new contemporary work which has a strong dialogue with historic collections

If you are unsure whether the activity you wish to apply for is eligible for support, please contact our Enquiries team on 0845 300 6200 or enquiries@artscouncil.org.uk.