More and more books will be distributed from shops, churches and village halls, predict local government and library bodies
Libraries will increasingly rely on volunteers and community groups, with more books distributed from shops and village halls, according to a report released on Friday from the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).
The report monitors the progress of 10 pilot projects established by the year-old Future Libraries Programme, including Bradford's book borrowing points in shops across the city; Hertfordshire's plans to expand in co-operation with adult social care and children's centres; and the money-saving combined libraries service proposed by several London councils. Suffolk plans to recruit members of the public on to boards of governors running its libraries, and Northumberland and Durham are trialling ebooks for older people and children.
Options for ensuring libraries' survival in the 21st century include running them in partnership with the private sector, charities and other councils; integrating with community facilities including churches, shops and village halls; or providing services including health centres and police surgeries in existing libraries. Culture minister Ed Vaizey said the report shone a spotlight on innovation and creative partnerships. "It will be a hugely useful resource, inspiring local authorities to emulate the best ideas to provide a first rate library service."
Chris White, chairman of the LGA culture, tourism and sport board, said libraries were among the most valued services provided by councils. "We know that people of all ages and from all backgrounds are quite rightly very protective over their local library."
The report is bullish about the future of libraries, suggesting that innovations can "increase numbers using libraries while delivering millions of pounds of savings". But council cuts threaten hundreds of libraries across the country.
Authors including Zadie Smith, Philip Pullman and children's laureate Julia Donaldson have joined the campaign to save local libraries. To read more of this article please click guardian.co.uk