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Arts Council England opens consultation on the libraries of the future

  • Date: 21 February 2012
  • Area: National

Arts Council England will today begin consulting with library experts on Envisioning the library of the future - a programme of research and consultation that will help them to shape what libraries should be in the future.

Envisioning the library of the future will begin with an assessment of trends in society which may affect the delivery of library services in the future. Following on from this, we will undertake a programme of consultation with library experts. In mid March 2012, an online consultation will open to all, with a series of short articles prompting public thoughts and opinions on the future of public library services, providing a deep understanding of the public value of libraries.

A final report will consolidate the findings of this research, enabling the Arts Council to shape a well-informed vision for the future of public libraries.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:

'It’s essential that we gather a wide range of views from people that run libraries, fund libraries and use libraries, to help us develop a shared vision of what the library of the future may look like. This consultation will be invaluable in helping us envisage the shape of that library, sitting at the heart of its community, providing services that local people value and enjoy.'

The Arts Council assumed responsibilities for museums and libraries, formerly held by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in October 2011, at the government's request. In September 2011 we published Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone, a framework on decision making for museums and libraries during the current spending period (2011-15).

Through consultation and research, Arts Council will look to build on this short-term framework with the development of a long term vision for libraries, and to move debate to encourage fresh thinking, promoting positive change in the libraries sector.

Last week we announced 13 successful Libraries Development Initiative projects that tested new approaches to library service delivery. The learning from these projects, and learning from Envisioning the library of the future consultation, will help us shape future library policy.