Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England (2016-2021)

Libraries are key community assets within our town centres and high streets, providing meeting points for the local community, skills and education, and other key services. This report from the Libraries Taskforce, explains the importance of libraries, sets out their ambition for the future of libraries in England, and explains how 7 key outcomes for local communities will be achieved, 2016-2021.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

Libraries are key community assets within our town centres and high streets, providing a meeting point for the local community, enhancing skills and education, and providing vital support services. As the Libraries Task Force notes (p.3):

"Libraries change lives for the better. They not only provide access to books and other literature but also help people to help themselves and improve their opportunities, bring people together, and provide practical support and guidance. As a locally accountable service, they are well-placed to respond to local needs and issues”.

However, like other public sector services, they are facing challenges around funding and the need to innovate to changing local community needs. This report, therefore, outlines its ambition for libraries, including:

Everyone to – see clear benefits of using libraries, understand services offered, have opportunities to improve their quality of life, and build skills.

Communities to have – a library designed to be inclusive and co-created by local communities, community hubs, and safe, welcoming and accessible virtual and physical library environments.

Public services to – understand how, through working together with libraries, better outcomes for communities can be achieved, and to regard libraries as first choice places to provide information to communities.

Library services to – be valued for their positive impacts, develop an evidence base to demonstrate their importance as a local resource, and adapt their services to changing community needs.

The report explains how libraries can achieve the above vision by focusing on achieving 7 key outcomes, outlining the key challenges, best practice examples, and progress indicators, for each:

  1. cultural and creative enrichment
  2. increased reading and literacy
  3. improved digital access and literacy
  4. helping everyone achieve their full potential
  5. healthier and happier lives
  6. greater prosperity; and
  7. stronger, more resilient communities.

To achieve the vision and outcomes detailed above, the report calls for local leaders - and the broader libraries network - to collaboratively do the following:

  • Encourage common library design principles
  • Plan public library services to meet local needs
  • Consider different models for local service delivery
  • Fund library services in varied and sustainable ways
  • Define what an excellent library service looks like
  • Help libraries use evidence in decision-making
  • Evidence stronger coordination and partnership working; and
  • Develop the library workforce.

For more government resources on libraries, including shorter summary documents, please see here [link to external site]