2017 UK Libraries
Axiell UK have been commissioned by CILIP to produce the 2017 review of UK libraries, the full document can be found here.
The report concerns libraries that are council run and explores the challenges that face them. In turn it covers:
The role of the public library – Focusing on the value of libraries as a community hub.
A vision for libraries – As a community focal point, providing access to cultural and heritage resources, supporting non-English speakers, support for people with disability and knowledge to be curated by professional staff.
71% of people supported the view that a trained librarian was critical to the sustainability of the library, a faculty that many community libraries have to sacrifice to be able to run as purely voluntary groups. The value of a professional was seen to act as an interface with the council, curate content and act as a contact point for the community.
The report goes into much further depth about bridging the digital divide. It touches on the governments Digital Skills Programme and the role libraries play in that.
Since the report highlights the value placed on the libraries role in the community, the report asks how libraries currently engage with the community outside of the library. While around half run a mobile library, many more host their own community events or visit schools.
The biggest challenges facing libraries are (predictably staffing services and funding, two linked challenges facing local authority services. Surprisingly, 90% of libraries still only use a handful of volunteers or use none at all, showing that the biggest impacts to local libraries are still to come. The challenges libraries face when using volunteers are the time to train and recruit them but also the commitment of volunteers in the medium term.
Anyone interested in the landscape of UK libraries should read this report.