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About us

Arts Council England is the development agency for libraries in England and has responsibility for supporting and developing libraries. Our focus is on public libraries. We recognise that public libraries 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.

Watch our video Literature On Your Doorstep - Libraries Development Initiative

Libraries contribute to the wider goals of both national and local government and the communities that they serve. We work with the leaders of library services and with key library stakeholders to shape the strategic direction of the sector. We recognise the broader role of libraries but also take a particular interest in the ways that library spaces can be used to connect the public with other cultural activity, and vice versa.

About us

Each of the five Arts Council areas has a Relationship Manager for libraries. Our Relationship Managers report to the Arts Council's Director of Libraries.

The role of the Relationship Manager is to:

  • maintain an overview of library services within the region
  • collect and disseminate good practice examples of library services that are innovative and driving improvement
  • provide information, advice and challenge to those responsible for the development of library services
  • engage with other art forms and museums within Arts Council to maximise opportunities for partnership working and development
  • contribute to the work of the libraries team in developing Arts Council policy on libraries
  • support libraries to apply to Grants for the arts and other Arts Council funding programmes

To get in touch with your libraries Relationship Manager please contact us.

Funding opportunities

Public libraries are funded by local authorities. The Arts Council has some funds for development activity which has a national impact supporting the work of libraries and which demonstrate the value of library services. We occasionally support pilot projects in libraries to develop and test innovative ways of working e.g. the Libraries Development Initiative.

Grants for the arts

Grants for the arts  is our open access fund for arts activities that is available to all individuals and organisations. Find out more. The Grants for the arts Libraries fund is a dedicated budget within the wider Grants for the arts programme for supporting public libraries to work with artists and arts organisations. It is open to all public libraries. A second round of funding for 2015-2018 is now available. Find out more.

Watch our video Tell us another one – Libraries Grants for the arts

Creative employment programme

The Creative employment programme is open for employers in the arts and culture sector to apply for funding for wage contributions for apprentices and paid internships. Find out more.

Other Arts Council funding programmes

Arts Council England has a number of other funding programmes which libraries can apply for or benefit from by being part of a consortium with other arts organisations. Further details can be found here:
Apply for funding
Funding eligibility

Other sources of funding 

Information about other sources of funding for the arts can be found here.