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Society of Chief Librarians announces new ‘universal offers’ for public libraries to be rolled out nationally

  • Date: 31 January 2013
  • Area: National

Today the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) announced that four 'universal offers' will be rolled out nationally to create an integrated approach to library services in England and Wales.

A national approach to services

The offers - health, reading, information, and digital - are the four service areas that modern users regard as integral to public libraries. This new, national approach will, for the first time, clarify what the public should be able to expect from their library.

The offers also identify where libraries can provide real value to local people and where they will be working collectively to deliver impact in difficult times.

For example, by working collectively, libraries are prioritising some big shared reading programmes such as the Reading Agency's Summer reading challenge, which is used by at least 60 per cent of local authorities.

A series of library initiatives

The SCL also announced other initiatives that will be launched in public libraries throughout 2013, such as the introduction of the first national Books on prescription scheme with the Department of Health.

Under this scheme, GPs and other health professionals will be able to provide prescriptions for patients with mild-to-moderate mental health conditions for specific cognitive behavioural therapy and self-help books, which will be accessible in all English libraries. It will also, for the first time, offer people mood-boosting novels and poetry, as well as social reading activities such as reading groups.

Libraries will also be on hand to help claimants of Universal Credit, which comes into force later this year, providing internet access and support to complete the application and manage their account online.

Collaborative working will support libraries

Nicky Morgan, director of libraries at Arts Council England said:

'We look forward to working with SCL on these national offers. After extensive research, we will be publishing Envisioning the library of the future in spring - and it is great to see how well the national offers play into our future plans.

'From Envisioning, we have found that this collaborative work is necessary to ensure that libraries thrive and survive in the face of this challenging economic situation - and technological and societal change. The libraries sector needs to have a joined-up approach - because together, we are stronger.'

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