Culture has officially joined Learning, Information, Reading, Digital and Health as public library universal offers.  Some more information, a photo and a video from the minister are below. Ever since Arts Council England took over from the MLA back in 2010 as the agency responsible for government grants to libraries, this has probably been on the cards. There’s a ton of shows, ACE funded or otherwise, now playing in libraries and I suspect that is only going to increase with the Society of Chief Librarians becoming a Sector Support Organisation for ACE. The challenge this brings, with there now being six Offers, is for the key messages of why we use libraries to be clear. We’ve always suffered a little from being Jack of All Trades and now, officially, we have another trade. And what a trade. Those shows can be beguiling, and more than a little time-consuming and distracting. But they can also be wonderful. It’s up to SCL to ensure it’s all to the good.

On an entirely different matter, it was great to see a particularly annoying internet troll who decided to take on libraries being rounded upon and shown the error of his ways. More below.


SCL Launch of Culture Offer

Minister for Libraries, John Glen, launches the SCL Culture Offer

SCL launches the Universal Culture Offer today at the Central Library in Hull, City of Culture 2017. This new offer seeks to build on the excellent work already happening in libraries to bring new and diverse cultural experiences to local communities. Public libraries have a key role in developing the audiences for arts and culture around the country. In libraries people can try out and learn new creative skills. They can experience performance, visual arts, digital arts and meet actors, dancers, poets, writers who excite, inspire and challenge.

In 2012 Arts Council England became the development agency for libraries and this became the catalyst for library services to further explore the potential for arts and cultural activities within libraries.  The Culture Offer has been developed for SCL by Meta Value, following detailed consultation with the library sector, stakeholders and partners. It is the latest in a suite of programmes which together develop and promote the role of a modern public library service.

‘As the development agency for libraries, the Arts Council has been funding cultural activity in libraries for many years and, in 2018, seven library organisations will join our national portfolio for the first time. We are absolutely committed to supporting communities to experience the best of arts and culture wherever they live and we know that libraries act as community hubs providing access to creative experiences, inspiration and knowledge in a trusted environment. I’m delighted to launch this Culture Offer in Hull and look forward to seeing how partnerships develop and the diverse cultural opportunities it will help bring to people across the country.’ Darren Henley OBE Chief Executive of Arts Council England

‘We are delighted to be launching the Culture Offer at a time when libraries are playing an ever stronger role in the cultural life of the nation. Many library services have received  Arts Council England funding in the last five years and next year, six library services will become Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations. We know that the cultural offer will play a significant part in libraries’ development over the next four years and we are looking forward to the new partnerships and creative opportunities that it will provide.’” Neil MacInnes, President of SCL

Darren Henley, Chief Exec of Arts Council England, Sarah Mears, Essex Libraries and Culture Offer Lead, Mag Astill and Neil MacInnes, President of SCL

Darren Henley, Chief Exec of Arts Council England, Sarah Mears, Essex Libraries and Culture Offer Lead, Mag Astill and Neil MacInnes, President of SCL

  • Society of Chief Librarians is delighted to introduce the Universal Culture Offer – Society of Chief Librarians. “The Universal Culture Offer will complement the other five offers; the Six Steps Promise and the Children’s Promise. There are two  elements to  this offer- the Core Offer that most services will deliver and the Stretch Offer that some library services are beginning to shape. In conducting the consultation for this offer , the range of cultural activities provided by libraries was impressive. As SCL becomes an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation, being able to articulate libraries’ unique role within local and national cultural provision and demonstrating how libraries create new opportunities for communities to engage with and enjoy art and culture will be crucial to its success. The Culture Offer will be formally launched in the autumn.”
  • Understanding cultural engagement: introducing the Cambridgeshire Culture Card – Libraries Taskforce. ” a new and ambitious pilot project that seeks to promote the contribution of libraries to arts and culture, facilitate partnerships for delivering cultural opportunities, drive an evidence based model for more effective cultural strategy and planning, that puts libraries at the core of the wider Cambridgeshire cultural offer – could in many senses, be considered perfect timing.” … “The Cambridgeshire Culture Card system will not be unique to Cambridgeshire: it will be designed to be highly replicable, using technologies and data assets already in place across the country. We would really like to hear from anyone in the public library sector that is either designing or delivering a similar project; is considering or would be interested in developing a scheme through the library service that can incentivise, track and measure impact of cultural engagement. In addition, if you are a library management system provider and this is of interest, please do get in touch.”

National news

“Walker’s turnaround was also welcomed tongue-in-cheek by the Society of Authors which tweeted: “We can’t condone chasing anti-library campaigners through the streets with sticks until they capitulate, but, I mean, it does seem to work.”

  • Cisco wants to close digital skills gap through education – IT Pro Portal. “As part of the pledge, there will be two initiatives: providing support for the teaching of Computing in Schools, and making digital skills training accessible through Libraries. First, there’s the Computing for Schools programme, providing teachers with training and resources to help them deliver the computing curriculum. As for UK libraries, Manchester’s 22 libraries will be among the first to have free access to courses that range from the basics of getting online, to providing an introduction to the Internet of Things and cybersecurity. Other cities to follow in 2018.
  • Civic crowdfunding is privatisation masquerading as democracy – Guardian. “Particularly contentious are the numerous library projects seen by some as a thinly veiled attempt to get volunteers to paper over the cracks created by widening austerity, echoing criticisms of the Cameron government’s much-maligned “Big Society” initiative. Plans to provide a community space at Childs Hill Library in Barnet elicited the following response: “Sorry, Childs Hill Library does not need to be turned into a thriving community space; it was a thriving community space … However well-meaning volunteers may be, they cannot replace fully trained library staff, half of whom, in Barnet, lost their jobs a few months ago.””
  • No one needs libraries any more? What rubbish – Guardian. “Now, I don’t usually make a habit of writing columns about something controversial that someone has said on Twitter; life is far too short. But this time, more than 100,000 people have replied to Walker’s tweet, rendering it somewhat newsworthy (and also leading him to back down and admit that libraries are not as unpopular as he believed). I’m also addressing it because of the context in which it appears: because of cuts to local authorities, libraries in Britain are closing all the time, at a rate that – despite the passionate commitment of librarians and activists, has begun to feel heartbreakingly inevitable.”

“Libraries may be needed more by poor people but many comfortably off people use them too. Regardless of class background, libraries plug us into our communities, reminding us that there is life beyond our living rooms, that there’s more to our daily existences than work and coming home, and the same again tomorrow. We are not all atomised in front of our glowing screens. Libraries don’t just mean us, they mean other people too. No wonder we fiercely protective of them. They are priceless. Maybe that’s why they are so busy”

An online bookclub from Axiell
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