UK Libraries Receive £125 Million in Additional Funding

Following years of declining investment, the United Kingdom’s public libraries will receive a significant boost, with over £125 million ($160,466,000) in new funding for regional museums and libraries throughout the country.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport logoFollowing years of declining investment, the United Kingdom’s (UK) public libraries will receive a significant boost, with over £125 million ($160,466,000) in new funding for regional museums and libraries throughout the country, according to an official announcement published October 12. The funding accounts for half of a £250 million Culture Investment Fund. Most of the remainder will be invested in Arts Council England’s (ACE) Cultural Development Fund (£90m), restoration of York’s National Railway Museum (£18.5m), and the UK City of Culture 2021, Coventry program (£7m). The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) will administer the fund, with ACE “having a key role” in its distribution, according to the announcement.

“The Cultural Investment Fund is the Government’s biggest ever single investment in cultural infrastructure, local museums and [neighborhood] libraries and will benefit communities across the country,” UK Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan stated. “This will help drive growth, rejuvenate high streets and attract tourists to our world-class cultural attractions.”

The announcement notes that a portion of the funds allocated to libraries will be spent “upgrading buildings and technology so public libraries across England are better placed to respond to the changing ways people are using them.”

 

COMMUNITY IMPACT

In a related matter, Lord John Bird and Nick Poole, chief executive of the UK's Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), on October 15 hosted a launch event at the House of Lords for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries’ report, Public Libraries: The Case for Support (download PDF).

Published by the office of Lord Bird, a library advocate, the report explains that while the UK currently spends £853 million per year on libraries, funding has declined by £213 million since 2010, “resulting in the loss of ten [percent] of our library service points and reduced services in many others.”

This declining investment represents a major missed opportunity, the report explains. “The presence of an appropriately funded, professionally-run public library has a significant ‘halo’ effect for local businesses and learning providers. As well as delivering significant increases in learning and healthcare indicators, the estimated economic [return on investment] ROI for a public library service is between 1:5 and [1:7] for the local economy for every £1 invested.”

Notably, economic benefits of libraries are shared equally across all demographics, according to the report. Citing case studies from a variety of sources, the report also describes the positive impact that libraries have on early childhood learning opportunities, summer learning, lifelong learning, informational and digital literacy, and support for underrepresented communities.

Rakuten OverDrive CEO Steve Potash was invited to the launch event for a presentation on the ways libraries deliver a high ROI for government funding in the United States and in other countries around the world.

“The Public Libraries: The Case for Support report is a rallying point for sustainable long-term funding packages for libraries in the UK, and it is also a report of great value to government agencies worldwide,” stated Potash. “OverDrive is proud to share with members of Parliament the success of the American Library Association’s Libraries Transform campaign that showcases the valuable community-building services of public libraries.”

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Matt Enis

menis@mediasourceinc.com

@MatthewEnis

Matt Enis (matthewenis.com) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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