The Libraries Development Initiative was created to test new approaches to library service delivery to build vibrant, sustainable 21st century library services within the framework of our 10-year vision, Great art and culture for everyone.

In total 13 projects were funded, each receiving a share of £250,000. The successful libraries tested innovative, locally appropriate and enterprising ways of working, resulting in a resilient vision for future public library services as a whole.

Case studies

Read case studies charting the success of the Libraries Development Initiative:

The projects

The 13 projects funded under the Libraries Development Initiative were:

Fresh Horizons Community Enterprise, Yorkshire

Creation of a volunteer managed and run community cinema within the community managed library in Kirklees, Yorkshire.

This project will place the community managed library in Kirklees at the heart of the new community arts partnership through co-location of a new community cinema which will provide local film-making and showing opportunities - drawing on the expertise of Open Cinema to grow engagement with excluded groups through community cinema provision.

Bournemouth Libraries

Placing QR codes in Bournemouth library buildings and locations around the city, linking cultural resources and activities together for the public via their smart phones.

This programme will give learners skills in new digital literacy and create exciting original content for cultural services. Training workshops will be carried out in the library and via mobile phone companies to enable the public to understand and use QR codes. It aims to catapult libraries and the arts to the forefront of new Smartphone technology, delivering and showcasing services in new and innovative ways.

Newcastle and Manchester Library Services

Library services commissioning a universal integrated cultural offer

This pilot project will test out how well two different metropolitan library services can broker access to a universal integrated cultural offer for vulnerable adults.

Newcastle and Manchester City Councils and the independent arts sectors in the two cities wish to work together to develop a cultural commissioning offer for vulnerable adults including older people; adults with learning disabilities; refugees and asylum seekers. Both cities have residents who are from the most vulnerable groups, who find universal services difficult to access. The project would work to move away from the provision of care through a network of day care centres to a more creative approach using the universal cultural facilities that are available in each city.

Cambridgeshire Library Service

Developing community-led commissioning for arts and library services in rural deprived areas.

This project aims to increase access to cultural activity in deprived rural areas through the development of the library spaces. It will use the community networks of local libraries together with an innovative mechanism to enable local communities to choose high-quality cultural activities to take place within those spaces.

Derby City Libraries

Exploring the role of arts activities and libraries in supporting people who are in pursuit of employment.

A partnership between Derby City Libraries, QUAD (an Arts Council National portfolio organisation), The Shaw Trust, Derby Jobcentre Plus and Action for Employment to enable Derby libraries to provide Job Club attendees sessions to address their confidence issues. Workshops will explore how service users can best present themselves and help identify barriers to gaining employment.

The project will show how the arts can be used to as a tool to help address social and economic problems, such as unemployment. It is a new partnership between Derby City Libraries and QUAD which should develop and cement the reputation of the cultural sector in the city and provide enhanced services for local people.

A partnership of the London Boroughs of Richmond, Kingston, Merton and Wandsworth

Library service delivery of targeted arts interventions in four South West London Boroughs aimed at specific target audiences in each borough.

This project will test how the delivery of learning activities in libraries can incorporate structured artist-led activities to deliver key outcomes that commissioners in schools, adult social care and adult and community learning teams are seeking. It will establish an evidence base for the impact and benefits of running structured arts activities in libraries to provide the basis for future commissioning. In doing so it will also explore how the different emerging library governance structures affect the provision of arts activities in libraries and the interaction with commissioners.

The Public Libraries Health Group

Creating a national 'Books on Prescription' offer.

A consortium of 50 library services from across England will be working together to create a national Books on Prescription scheme for people with mild to moderate mental and other health conditions. Books on Prescription is a tried and tested collaboration between public libraries and GP services but it has so far been developed in a fragmented way. This project aims to bring together the various Books on Prescription schemes into a single national offer that will encourage take up and provide benefits to people with mild to moderate conditions.

Writing West Midlands

Integrating libraries and publishers' activities in the West Midlands.

Writing West Midlands will invite all library services in West Midlands to express interest in being part of the project, and will use appropriate criteria to shortlist seven partner services to pilot a programme of integration between libraries and publishers in the West Midlands that encourages readers to get involved in the programming of writers and events in their local library. The library service partners include: Birmingham; Herefordshire; Warwickshire; Wolverhampton; Telford and Wrekin; Staffordshire and Shropshire.

The project will develop strong links between libraries, library users, and creators, while creating lasting relationships that libraries and their users can benefit from. Writing West Midlands will provide the partner libraries with a range of free resources, including book stock, marketing materials and access to authors.

Portsmouth Libraries

Widening participation in a local literary festival through libraries' community networks.

A project to develop the Portsmouth literary festival, BookFest, through library services to widen appeal and participation to a broader local demographic and change the way the library service interacts with the public and delivers services.

This project will work directly with local communities in a sustained and meaningful way to co-produce a library service and festival that is responsive and relevant to people's needs. It will push community engagement activity further than existing consultation models, leading to real community activism. Funding will support an apprenticeship in the library service. The project will focus on areas of the city that usually have low engagement in and access to cultural services.

ASCEL (Association of Senior Children's and Education Librarians)

A national project to develop approaches for co-production of libraries' reading offers together with young people.

This project will work with local authorities across England to develop approaches to help libraries engage young people in designing and delivering their reading offer. ASCEL will partner with The Reading Agency and a wide range of library services to deliver this pilot project.

London Boroughs of Camden, Islington and Hackney Library Services

A pilot to explore the outsourcing to a commercial provider and enhancement of a shared home library service across three London boroughs.

This project focuses on creating efficiencies while extending the availability of the core public library home delivery service to more people. It will trial a number of new approaches to home delivery services, including premium book delivery services for those not eligible for the free service and possible models for subsidising the core home library service. The latter is likely to see increased use as the population ages and the number of housebound people increases.

Reading Partners

Digital marketing materials from publishers for libraries' reader development activities.

Reading Partners will develop a digital platform where libraries can access digital support materials from publishers for reading services, such as author interviews and reading group guides. A digital platform will provide libraries with the tools and knowledge to amplify their digital reading offer; create personalised and bespoke digital reading campaigns which showcase the diversity, depth and range of their assets; build sustainable relationships with readers and develop a shareable and dynamic social reading experience.

The Publishers Association

Publishers sharing digital marketing skills with libraries.

This is a digital skills sharing programme aiming to provide a sustainable platform from which publishers can help libraries innovate digitally. The bid will leverage significant in-kind investment from member publishers. Publishers will provide digital marketing resources and support for public libraries nationally via the Reading Partners platform.

Further information

For more information about the Libraries Development Initiative, including guidance documents, go to the funding pages of our website or contact