Envisioning the library of the future
Discover what lies ahead for libraries, and what we can do to help them develop. This major research project commissioned by Arts Council England intends to help set out the value, role and purpose of public libraries with clarity. It points out ways that libraries can respond to change in order to remain at the heart of the community, and gives focus for work in the future. This is the main report covering the first two phases of the project.
The core purpose of libraries is, and looks set to remain, enabling people to access, explore and enjoy reading and knowledge. For libraries to fulfil this purpose and reverse declining use, the services they provide must be closely attuned to the particular needs and aspirations of the communities they serve. Achieving this goal hinges on community engagement, enablement, and co-production becoming organising principles for libraries, modelling an emerging new settlement between taxpayers and the state. It also depends on developing the skills and capacity of the sector so it can react and adapt much faster. Libraries must also learn to secure and manage a diversity of funding streams (especially payment by results and non-government funds).