Arts Council England and DCMS announce funding to support libraries

Posted April 11, 2017 at 5:51 pm

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An innovative indoor soft play facility designed to engage children and families with learning and reading through play, a ‘human library’ where people can gift their talents or experience to someone in need, and initiatives that reduce social isolation and digital exclusion are amongst some of the projects being funded through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund.

Arts Council England and DCMS have announced that 30 local authorities’ libraries services from across the country will receive a total of £3.9 million from the Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation fund. Launched in December 2016 as part of The Libraries Taskforce strategy to help create successful and sustainable public library services, the fund aims to support innovative activity in England’s public libraries. The investment will support libraries to help build a fairer society and deliver opportunities for disadvantaged communities across the country.

Libraries Minister Rob Wilson said:

“Libraries are important local assets that not only provide access to books, but are places where people can come together, be inspired and learn new skills. This programme is a fantastic example of how 21st century libraries can offer a range of services that benefit communities across the country and help build a shared society that works for everyone. We want libraries to think differently about how they serve people in their local areas. I have been impressed by the innovative projects put forward and I can’t wait to see them in action.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive at Arts Council England said:

“Libraries are brilliant for books and reading, and they are inclusive spaces where we can learn, create, and participate. This programme has provided us with a fantastic opportunity to fund new activities in libraries and reach people all over the country who might not usually use their local library service. We had a phenomenal response to the fund when it opened, there is a huge appetite for funding like this, and I’m looking forward to seeing these innovative projects come to life and make a real difference to everyone involved.”

The following awards were made in the South West:

Libraries Unlimited has been awarded £245,330 to rollout innovative services to rural communities across Northern Devon, providing access to a range of literacy and digital literacy facilities. A ‘Fab Lab PLUS’ centre will be built at Barnstaple Library, offering the use of specialist digital machinery as well as high-quality training. A new outreach programme will also be developed, taking digital tools and opportunities to key community locations with a ‘mini Fab Lab’. The new facilities will open up employment prospects, encourage entrepreneurship and engage new and existing members. As a result of this funding, these innovative library services and activities will provide opportunities to improve heath, wellbeing and overall life chances for families and communities across Northern Devon.

Bournemouth Library Service has been awarded £ 136,846 in partnership with five Local Authorities, Literature Works, The Reader and South Western Regional Library Service (SWRLS).  Shared reading activities, a programme of cultural and creative events, a digital app and online resources will address disadvantage in literacy and digital skills. Volunteering and engagement opportunities across Bournemouth, Wiltshire, Dorset, Poole, South Gloucestershire and Bristol will be created. The programme of activities will involve communities, ease social isolation and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Plymouth City Council’s Library Service has been awarded £56, 026 to work with CATERed to provide increased and targeted access to library services and provide a healthy meal during the summer holidays. The partnership aims to engage with 7000 disadvantaged children and families especially in areas of low library usage. The scheme will provide a free meal and book to feed both body and mind. Through digital-making workshops, the Summer Reading Challenge and storytelling sessions the library service will encourage reading and improve access to technology and cultural activities. CATERed are the country’s only schools-led cooperative school meal trading company jointly owned with the council.