Envisioning the library of the future is a programme of research and debate that will help us to develop a long-term vision for public libraries in England. This work builds upon Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone, a framework for our decision making for museums and libraries from 2011 to 2015.
The work has been happening in three phases. A summary of emerging findings from the first two phases of the research is available to download here.
Phase one: desk research
Two desk-based research projects have informed the project from the start:
- a trends review that amassed and analysed data on the technological advances, societal trends and demographic changes that will affect the way people engage with libraries in the future
- a review of innovations in library services that are already taking place around the world
The second phase of the research comprised three distinct elements, all of which were informed by the findings of phase one:
Phase two: library sector consultation
Delphi inquiry - We invited more than 200 sector experts to participate in a Delphi survey that asked them to consider a series of statements about how the country might look in 10 years' time (the statements were based upon the findings from phase 1). Respondents were asked to rate the likelihood of an event or trend coming to pass and the magnitude of the impact it would have
online conversation - We set up an online conversation on the future of library service delivery. We encouraged people to visit the blog, comment on the posts and contribute to the conversation via Twitter using the hashtag #ACElibraries
workshops - five workshops were held across England in mid May, with 60 to 80 attendees at each one. The workshops were an opportunity for librarians, authors, campaigners, service providers, academics and others to discuss the findings of the research to date and to reflect upon what the library of the future should look like. Research carried out to date was presented to delegates on the day (see the presentation). Video content from one of the events will soon be available on our libraries conversation blog
Phase three: understanding the public
This phase of the research tested the public view of the purpose and value of public libraries. It took place between July and December 2012.
It comprised a detailed exploration of how the public value libraries at a deeper level than previous research has allowed. Recent research by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council England has provided comprehensive evidence on what the public currently want from public library services, particularly what people think of the range of services available at their local libraries, and factors which influence their use of these. We sought to explore the public's appreciation of public libraries in more detail: not as individual consumers or non-consumers of library services, but rather as citizens who fund public library services.
In order to answer these questions we wanted to give everybody an opportunity to take part in the research, either by attending one of our planned workshops or responding to an online survey.
A final report, synthesing the findings from all three phases of the research, will inform our evidence-based vision for the future of public library service delivery. This is due to be published on 23 May 2013. For more information about this work please contact us at email@example.com.
For more information on how we support libraries, read Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone.
Learn about our Libraries Development Initiative and how we are supporting the development of new approaches to library service delivery.