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Research into the library of the future published

  • Date: 23 May 2013
  • Area: National

Envisioning the library of the future, a major research project undertaken over the past year, has been published. The research will help library staff, funders and users to better understand what libraries could and should look like in the future.

Valued services

The research has found that public libraries are trusted spaces, open to all, in which people continue to explore and share the joys of reading, information, knowledge and culture. People will continue to value the services that libraries provide in the future.

Challenges ahead

Envisioning the library of the future also indicates public libraries face many challenges in the coming years, including: advances in technology, which affect the ways in which people want to connect to information and culture; reduced public expenditure; the increasing involvement of citizens in the design and delivery of public services; and the needs of an ageing population.

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

'It's good to hear how highly valued public libraries are by both users and non-users. And this research has also brought lots of great examples to our attention of how libraries are experimenting with new ways of working and constantly adapting to the needs of their communities.

'The vision of the library of the future is not a distant goal - it's very much an attainable one. Envisioning the library of the future has shown us that collaboration is key. If everyone with an interest in and passion for libraries works effectively together, we can help the sector to develop and respond to the challenges and opportunities that are presenting themselves. And we can all be ambitious about the future for libraries.'

Four priority development areas

The Arts Council has set out four priority areas for development in response to the research:

1     Place the library as the hub of the community

2     Make the most of digital technology and creative media

3     Ensure that libraries are resilient and sustainable

4     Deliver the right skills for those who work in libraries

We will be developing these with partners across the library, cultural, commercial, voluntary and academic sectors, in order to make real the ambitions set out in the research.

Recognising libraries' contribution to society

Janene Cox, President, Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), said:

'The publication of Envisioning the library of the future is very timely. Backed up by robust evidence, Envisioning re-asserts the value, role and purpose of the public library service.

'SCL are keen that the many ways that libraries contribute to literacy, health, well-being, growth and prosperity are recognised. We know that communities are passionate about their public libraries and we welcome the opportunity to help lead and deliver on the aspirations of Envisioning.'

Read more about Envisioning the library of the future and download the research documents.