Carnegie UK Trust have been having a good month or two.  They recently produced the excellent “Speaking Volumes” advocacy tool and now they have announced more details of a £200,000 library innovation fund that intends to “future-proof public libraries”, develop innovative ideas and, by the by, encourage innovation and leadership skills amongst library staff. In these days of traditional funding cuts, a mass (often forced) emigration from the profession and an increased questioning of the library role by those who hold the purse strings, this is to be strongly welcomed.  The challenge for those applying – and for the Trust itself – is not be distracted by glamorous but irrelevant ideas but ones which may make a real difference to the UK public library service.  Don’t get distracted by the shiny, people.  Think about things which have potential for the long term.  We, literally, can’t afford not to.


Carnegie UK’s LibraryLab 

      • Funding of between £5,000 and £15,000 for up to 15 public libraries to help “future-proof public libraries” and “develop innovative ideas in library services”.
      • The initiative will also pilot a new programme of online learning material to encourage innovation and leadership amongst library staff. This resource will be developed using material from the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) initiative run by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Foundation’s Global Libraries.
      • The three year funding ‘Carnegie Library Lab’ will create partnerships with up to 15 public libraries to support innovative practice and show that book lending is only one of many services that libraries can deliver.
      • “Get It Loud in Libraries” music scheme lauded as an example of what is possible.
      • Any librarian applying for the funding must submit an innovative idea that finds a new way of using library space; demonstrates a new way of delivering a public library service; brings new activities to the library; or involves an innovative partnership.
      • Funding decisions will be made in 2014 and 2016, with projects taking place between 2014 and 2017. Applications will be accepted between 1st September and 30th September 2014. For more information on how to apply please visit www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk


“Public Libraries have come under scrutiny in recent years with reporting on funding cuts and closures. Despite this, libraries are essential sources for learning and information, and they contribute towards community wellbeing. But times are changing and libraries need to be thinking more about how they can future-proof their services. Carnegie Library Lab will provide funding, training and mentoring to help libraries utilise their space in new ways and develop their service and how they deliver it.” Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Charegie UK Trust

Other case studies mentioned

  • Gateshead Library is running a series of workshops in partnership with local digital companies including Ubisoft, Makerspace in Newcastle, and local enterprise bodies.
  • Northamptonshire Libraries is piloting a secondment and mentoring model to support other local authorities to use the approach to creating enterprise hubs in libraries which has been developed successfully in Northamptonshire.
  • Neath Port Talbot Library will run two Technoclubs with primary and secondary schoolchildren, learning how to build and programme Lego Mindstorm robots, and running sessions on the use of Scratch software, and App Inventor. Library staff will be trained as part of this project.
  • St Botolph’s Waiting Room project in Colchester. While not involving a public library, there is much to be learned from this exciting approach to stimulate creativity. It is a Hack/Maker/Library Space housed in a former bus station, hosting a Workshop, Cafe/Kitchen/Bar, General Stores, give-get library and a Micro Social History Museum.

Carnegie’s Links with libraries:

In 2012, the Trust carried out research into the future of libraries and published its report A New Chapter – Public Library Services in the 21st Century. The report argued that public libraries were not good at measuring the impact they had on individual or community wellbeing. While they kept records of how many books were borrowed, they were less good at showing how many people had got jobs as a result of help with online applications at their local library, or how libraries supported migrants to integrate with the local community, for example through English language classes.  Recently, Carnegie UK also produced the very good advocacy resource Speaking Volumes.

See also Carnegie Library Lab – Carnegie UK Trust and Carnegie Trust launches £200,000 library innovation fund – BookSeller.

UK national news

  • CILIP AGM – LIS-PUB-LIBs.  Martyn Wade, Chair of CILIP Council on the governance proposals.
  • EU issues Directive on RFID PrivacyChanging Libraries. “On July 31st the European Union finally published directive M436 on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). M436 has been in process for so long that many RFID users may have forgotten all about it some time ago. A few may never even have heard of it.” … ““quick guidefor librarians back in 2013. The first, and simplest, is signage. Locations where RFID is being used will be required to display a sign advising users of this fact. on a website for example.”
  • Labour: ‘Unleash digital creativity to shift power away from Whitehall’ – Guardian.  “Labour’s policy chief has set out plans to transform digital services to increase public participation and customisation, taking power away from Whitehall in what is described as “a new democratic revolution in which people have more power”. Of which one of six points is “Inclusion of all communities and support through libraries, post offices and voluntary organisations for those without digital skills.”


  • Coffee House Press’ writers in the stacks residencies view libraries as places of artistic inspiration – Star Tribune (USA). “Coffee House Press has been doing this with writers over the past year, granting brief residencies in all kinds of libraries — academic, public, institutional, little. Libraries, says Jay Peterson, who is managing the CHP in the Stacks project for publisher Chris Fischbach, should not be just repositories of information, but places of inspiration.” … “Librarians have been crucial, pointing out gems from collections, Peterson said. In some cases, “it’s been a matter of a librarian saying, ‘I find this fascinating, come to this shelf, open up this drawer.”
  • Makerspace resources – John J Burke (USA). Extensive list of Maker Space online resources including nine library-specific ones and lots of case studies etc.

UK local news by authority

  • Birmingham – RM3698 L0481 – MSP Birmingham Community Library Service – Invitation to TenderContracts Finder. “Birmingham Community Library Service is looking to spin out of Birmingham City Council with c.125 staff (FTE) and a predicted annual turnover of c.£5m. Birmingham Libraries is looking to deliver a sustainable, co-ordinated and city-wide service which is delivered locally, invests resources in the highest areas of deprivation and, ensures maximum social value. Birmingham Libraries aims to provide greater opportunities for communities to engage with their library and; support literacy, learning, employment and digital access across Birmingham. Birmingham Libraries is working to a go live date of 31 March 2015
  • Liverpool – Protestors pledge: We will fight to save Liverpool’s libraries – Liverpool Echo. “More than 8,000 people have signed a petition opposing plans to shut 11 of Liverpool’s libraries. The petition is to be handed in to the town hall this Friday along with a letter signed by some of the city’s best known writers and artists condemning the proposed closures.” … “A letter organised by local author Alan Gibbons, also leader of the Campaign for the Book, has now been signed by well known figures including Frank Cottrell-Boyce, John Fay and Pete Wylie, as well as much-loved children’s writers such as Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Francesca Simon and Cathy Cassidy. National figures such as Sir Michael Holryod and Baroness Joan Bakewell have also signed the open letter.”
  • Liverpool – The Future of our Library Service & Why the Greens Can’t Count – Liverpool Labour. Mayor says “The proposals are the fairest way of dealing with a financial situation outside of our control. Not only have we had to find these savings because of the cuts, we also have to find money to pay for PFI schemes, like the £50 million borrowed to refurbish Central Library. There are more service cuts and reductions to come, but we will do as much as we can to save services and to protect the people who rely on us. That is why I am so frustrated at so-called politicians in this city playing toy-town politics with our future. The stupidity of the Green Party is breath taking, however, the more they comment on important issues in our City the more they are exposed as the opportunists that they are, with little or no knowledge of real life and the financial difficulties that we face. The fact that they are suggesting that we should keep all Libraries open by using the Mayoral Discretionary Fund shows you just how little they know.”