By Gary Price
The research comes from the Arts Council of England and is found in a report titled, The Library of the Future.
This research has found that public libraries are trusted spaces, open to all, in which people continue to explore and share the joys of reading, information, knowledge and culture. It is clear that people value the services that libraries provide and will continue to do so. Indeed, there is a clear message that there is a compelling and continuing need for a publicly funded library service.
The research also reminds us that public libraries face many challenges in the coming years, including: advances in technology, which affect the ways in which people want to connect to information and culture; reduced public expenditure; the increasing involvement of citizens in the design and delivery of public services; and the needs of an ageing population.
Envisioning the library of the future and the work that comes from it will help us and our partners in the library sector to set out the value, role and purpose of public libraries with more clarity, pointing out ways they can respond to change in order to remain at the heart of their communities. This will provide the focus for our work in the future.
The research began in January 2012, and comprised three phases during which researchers spoke with more than 800 people. The research included an online survey which had over 1,400 responses, and 10,000 people viewed the online conversation. Read more on the research methodology.
Four priority areas
In order to foster a successful, sustainable library service in light of these challenges, the Arts Council has set out four priority areas for development which have been tested and corroborated by stakeholders:
place the library as the hub of the communitymake the most of digital technology and creative mediaensure that libraries are resilient and sustainabledeliver the right skills for those who work in libraries
Via Karen du Toit