The research for Envisioning the library of the future happened in three phases:

Phase one: desk research

Two desk-based research projects, carried out by Ipsos MORI and Shared Intelligence, 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 - Ipsos MORI and Shared Intelligence 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, run by Ipsos MORI and Shared Intelligence, 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 is available on the 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 was carried out by Dialogue by Design, Involve and the Office for Public Management and 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. 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.

Further information

Learn about our Libraries Development Initiative and how we are supporting the development of new approaches to library service delivery.