Department for Culture, Media and Sport
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Innovation fund to support 30 libraries across England

Successful applicants announced for the Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund.

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 yesterday (Wednesday 22 March) 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.

Some of the successful projects include:

Greenwich Leisure, £125,121

Greenwich Leisure and Royal Borough of Greenwich have been awarded a total of £125,121 to create Story Book Play: an indoor soft play facility built around the theme of children’s literature. Modelled on the outdoor play area in the Bibliotekshaven, Copenhagen, this will be the first of its kind in this country, installed in Eltham Library, Greenwich. The Story Book area will bring play into the world of the library, recognising and expanding the role of play in children’s development.

Telford and Wrekin Council, £50,000

Telford and Wrekin Council will receive £50,000 to test a learning club for the whole family across libraries and venues in the borough. This programme aims to engage parents and carers, challenging these groups to think about the technology that their children are using and if it could be shared to benefit their own learning and employment opportunities. The programme will be based in some of the most disadvantaged parts of Telford and Wrekin where the proportion of families have at least one parent who is unemployed.

Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd, £243,783

This investment will allow Hull Culture and Leisure to create a space within the Central Library where anyone can explore their creativity in the arts, science and technology. Building on the enthusiasm and excitement of Hull City of Culture, this space (called a ‘Makerspace’) will have state-of-the-art digital and electronic equipment, and skilled staff providing support. The project will also include a mobile element with pop-up ‘Makerspaces’ happening across the city.

 Norfolk County Council, £98,020

With the support of £98,020 from the Arts Council, Norfolk County Council will work with volunteers to support emergent readers aged 8+ to develop their skills. The project will use a one-to-one phonics based teaching tool to help non-readers to become fluent readers in six months or less, providing people with a skill that will support them at all stages of their life – whether it is for education, work or recreation.

Bournemouth Borough Council, £136,846

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.”

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.

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.

Kathy Settle, CEO of the Libraries Taskforce said:

We know that libraries are at the heart of their communities and we want to see them continue to thrive for future generations. Libraries providing a wide range of services to meet local needs is critical to this.

Having the ability to test out new ideas in new areas through this DCMS-funded programme is an excellent opportunity, and I was delighted at the variety of projects submitted. We’ll be supporting the successful library services to share the evaluation of their projects widely so others can also benefit from their learning.

The full list of successful applications

For more information contact:Abigail Knell, Communications Officer at Arts Council England020 7628 0537 /

Notes to editors

As the national development agency for libraries in England, the Arts Council has invested over £15 million in supporting libraries since 2012.

We announced last year that we would be integrating libraries into our National Portfolio from 2018 onwards to deliver arts and museum activity. This reflects the Arts Council’s determination to lead an integrated approach across arts, museums and libraries to achieving great art and culture for everyone.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


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