A Public Policy Exchange event took place in June 2018 looking at the resiliency and value of public libraries, and how they can work in partnership to create new opportunities and meet local needs. Here are excerpts from the briefing for the event where CILIP set out the benefits of libraries and profile of library users, the impact of new technologies and funding pressures, examples of library partnerships and our work with the Society of Chief Librarians to provide ethical support for partnerships.
Libraries are popular and well-supported public services attracting the most diverse audiences in the arts, culture and heritage sector. Libraries provide a range of benefits to individuals, communities, wider-society and the economy by improving literacy, health and wellbeing, developing skills and supporting economic growth.
Public libraries have a successful track record working in partnership – including with the third sector, healthcare sector, across local Government and with national Government bodies and agencies. Libraries are key points in their communities and trusted spaces where all are welcome, so working in partnership can be an effective way to develop and provide services, target specific groups, increase profile and reach, and access funding.
Benefits of libraries
- Literacy: The UK’s literacy crisis costs the economy £2.5 billion every year with a quarter of working age adults in England with low literacy or numeracy skills. The crisis is particularly acute amongst young people with England’s 16-19 year olds at the bottom of 23 developed nations for literacy skills. Reading for pleasure is vital for children’s life chances and children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers.
- Health: Regular library users have 1.4 percent increased likelihood of reporting good general health. The improvement in health associated with library use is estimated to save the NHS £1.32 per person per year in terms of reducing GP visits. The “aggregate NHS cost savings across the library-using English population” could save the NHS £27.5 million per year.
Public attitudes about libraries
- A significant proportion (72%)of people in England say that public libraries are important for their communities.
- Two fifths (40%)say libraries are important for themselves personally.
- A public poll put librarians in the top-five professional groups for providing trustworthy information.
- Research with the public shows the most popular changes and improvements that libraries could make to encourage use are: 1. Better information on what libraries offer 2. Improve the range and quality of books 3. Offer more events 4. Provide other Council services in the library.
Examples of library partnerships
Reading and literacy
- Bookstartis the world’s first national book-gifting programme, providing free books to all children in England and Wales at two stages before school. Run by the charity BookTrust, the programme involves multi-agencies across health, education, early years and local authorities. It encourages the promotion of libraries as hubs for activities centred around literacy, health and early years’ development. Evaluation shows a £25 return on every £1 spent in terms of social benefit to parents, children and communities.
- The Summer Reading Challengeis a reading challenge that takes place through libraries to address the summer reading ‘dip’. Over 750,000 children across the UK took place last year. Run by the charity The Reading Agency, in 2018 the Summer Reading Challenge is delivered in partnership with the Beano.
Health and wellbeing
- Reading Well Books on Prescription is available in libraries across England where patients are given prescriptions by GPs or other health professionals for self-help books from an approved list of titles. It was developed by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians, and with funding from Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust.
- Sandal library in Wakefield re-designed their library in partnership with the Alzheimer’s society to help people living with dementia.
- Hertfordshire library service works in partnership with the charity KidsHub to run closed library sessions and tailored activities with additional needs such as autism, cerebral palsy and profound multiple learning difficulties.
Read the full article here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/workinginpartnership