The Carnegie UK Trust, “one of over twenty foundations established by Andrew Carnegie,” is releasing some £200,000 ($335,440) to help UK public libraries “future-proof their services.” According to the Trust, “the three year funding programme, ‘Carnegie Library Lab’ will create partnerships with up to 15 public libraries to support innovative practice and show that book lending is only one of many services that libraries can deliver.”
Without directly challenging recent UK government policy on libraries, the Trust states in its materials that:
The Carnegie name is synonymous with support for public libraries and Carnegie Library Lab has been launched to continue this long history. It follows the Carnegie UK Trust’s 2012 report on the future of libraries, which found that communities have a real desire for libraries to remain open.
Martyn Evans, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK Trust said: “Public Libraries have come under scrutiny in recent years with reporting on funding cuts and closures. Despite this, libraries are essential sources for learning and information, and they contribute towards community wellbeing. But times are changing and libraries need to be thinking more about how they can future-proof their services.”
This action by the Trust recalls the advocacy of the American Library Association in conjunction with the U.S. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, where libraries are being turned into not only information and services access points, but also hubs for local entrepreneurship and initiatives. However, funding for U.S. library programs is liable to eclipse even the Trust’s generous grant. The Trust also says that “funding decisions will be made in 2014 and 2016, with projects taking place between 2014 and 2017,” and provides links and online details for library professionals wishing to apply.