This research establishes a baseline for community engagement in Libraries for funders to use for evaluation of the Communities Libraries Programme.
It reports on what the programme has achieved including refurbishment or building development projects, it provides case studies of excellence in Bristol, Newcastle, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Sandwell and Slough and it outlines areas for improvement:
- Vision and goals – more focus and buy in required
- Community segmentation – which is often based on traditional demographics not predictive, behavioural or interest based sectors.
- Organisational transformation
- More effective communications
- Use of social networks focused around libraries
- Methods and metrics to measure impact.
The evaluation has identified key recommendations to support library authorities in meeting project objectives:
- Visions should be collaboratively developed, focused and properly communicated.
- Community segmentation should increasingly focus on behavioural segments; delivery should focus on delivery of service experiences in addition to products.
- The potential impact of organisational transformation on staff must be recognised, and effective communication and engagement processes must be put in place to ensure ownership.
- External communications should be creative and carefully targeted, in addition to provision of generic service information.
- Community engagement plans should be more robust, with an emphasis on monitoring progress.