Supporting libraries

Hand drawn iIllustration by Supermundane with lots of intricate lines and patterns

Arts Council England is the development agency for libraries in England. Our focus is on public libraries, which operate within a wider framework of library provision and local and national government services.

It is our view that there is a clear, compelling and continuing need for a publicly funded library service. Public libraries are trusted spaces, free to enter and open to all. In them, people can explore and share reading, information, knowledge and culture. We know that libraries play a broad role in their communities, and we take particular interest in the ways that library spaces can be used to connect the public with other cultural activities.

Libraries contribute to the wider goals of both national and local government, as well as the communities that they serve. We work with the leaders of library services and other partners to shape what we hope our libraries in England will look like in the future.

Find out more

A man at the other end of a large hall looks out through one of several large windows towards the sea.

Our research

Browse and search all of our latest research reports about libraries in England

A young girl with a cardboard lens over her camera takes a photo in a gallery.

Keys to the Kingdom

Listen to our podcast: Neil Gaiman talks to Toby Litt about libraries and librarians


Read our #libraryletters for National Libraries Day and show your support for libraries

Latest news, blog posts and case studies

Two boys laughing

Lively libraries

Artistic and creative events have got more than 1,900 people visiting libraries in Warwickshire.

A man holds a pop-up book open in a library.

Animating libraries with theatre

Supported by our funding The Spark Arts in Leicester is getting children and their families enjoying theatre at local libraries.

Image captions
Top left to bottom right: 1. The Book Hive. Photo © Rusty Squid 2. Readers at the opening of Manchester Central Library. Photo © Joel Fildes 3. Children engage with Joseph Coelho's Tree Child on the Spark Arts tour. Photo © Pamela Raith Photography / The Spark Arts. 4. Atmosphere by Edmund de Waal at Turner Contemporary. Photo © Benjamin Beker. 5. We Forgot the Lot! 2015. Photo © Tate / Sam Robinson. 6. No Credit Displaying 7. Participants at Canada Water Library. Photo © Michael Cameron Photography. 8. Liverpool library on National Libraries Day 2016 © Graham Lucas Commons 9. Wakefield Libraries and Information Services. Photo © Jill Jennings 10. No Credit Displaying 11. Warwickshire Libraries' Fantastic Fun with Words Festival. Photo © Arts Council England / Alan Fletcher 12. Daniel Copeland performs Joseph Coelho's Tree Child on the Spark Arts tour. Photo © Pamela Raith Photography / The Spark Arts 13. Land Speed Record Toys. Photo © Tom Wood / National Motor Museum 14. 'Transe Express' by Seachange Arts at the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts, 2015. Photo © David Street / Streetview Marketing 15. Rifco Arts: Break the Floorboards @ Watford Palace Theatre, 2013. Photo © Manuel Harlan. 16. New Wolsey Youth Theatre's Through The Looking Glass. Photo © Mike Kwasniak 17. Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery. Photo © RAMM Exeter 18. Musiko Musika's ECCO Concert at Southbank Centre, February 2014. Photo © Harriet Armstrong / Musiko Musika. 19. It's A Wonderful Life by New Wolsey Theatre. Photo © Mike Kwasniak. 20. Love is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. Photo © Andy Keate