Local Libraries Receive Share of £65,000 Funding for Innovative Projects

Six public library staff have been chosen from a UK-wide competition to receive funding to deliver new projects in their library, covering everything from recycled robots to coding for children. 

The support comes through the Carnegie UK Trust’s Library Lab initiative, which was set up to help local library staff across the UK and Ireland develop innovative and practical projects, as well as gain access to a wide range of personal development opportunities.

Library staff in Oldham, West Lothian, Powys, Redbridge, Bexley and Wakefield have been chosen to receive Library Lab funding of between £5,000 and £15,000 to deliver their projects.  

As well as recycled robots and coding, other projects to receive funding as part of Library Lab include: ‘libraries at night’ - a cultural programme delivered during times when the library is normally closed; STEM activity workshops to encourage more girls to learn about science and technology; themed reading hampers to inspire creative writing; and fundraising through the sale of library themed greeting cards and merchandise.

Third Round of Successful Fund

This is the third round of Library Lab funding to be made available by the Carnegie UK Trust. The programme has now provided nearly £200,000 to libraries across the UK and has supported 20 emerging library leaders.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of Carnegie UK Trust, said: “The calibre of the applications we received for our Library Lab initiative was extremely high, making it very difficult to choose just six projects to support. 

“Libraries are at the heart of our communities and are vital sources for learning and information. It’s so important to make sure we are investing in library staff and their projects, supporting innovation and leadership to help build a positive future for our public libraries.” 

Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, added: “We welcome the announcement of the third cohort of the Carnegie UK Trust Library Lab. We were delighted to have been involved in the selection process and once again were hugely impressed with the innovation, vision and enthusiasm demonstrated by the applicants. Library Lab is as much about people as it is about projects, and it provides a great opportunity to showcase what this generation of librarians and information professionals is capable of. As with the previous two cohorts, we expect great things from this group of Library Lab partners.”

Applications for Carnegie Library Lab were invited from January to April. The winning applicants were selected by an expert Advisory Group including representatives from CILIP, the Library and Information Association; Society of Chief Librarians; Arts Council England; the Scottish Library and Information Council; Welsh Government; Libraries Northern Ireland; and the Local Government and Management Agency of Ireland.

The supported projects will be developed and delivered over the next 18 months.

Successful Applicants
  • A world of recycled robots (Maria Reguera, Redbridge Library) - Inspiring children to create and programme robots using recycled materials and affordable electronic components, showing them that robots can be made from materials they would usually discard. The project will also educate children about the importance of recycling.
  • Unhampered Reads (Claire Pickering, Wakefield Libraries) – The project will see themed hampers developed to help inspire conversation, reminiscence, creative writing and spoken word in local communities. A training package will also be put together to encourage further use of the hampers by library service staff, health partners and volunteers.
  • Count and Code (Kate Smyth, Oldham Libraries) - Sessions focusing on maths through play and coding for children ages 3-6, their parents and carers. Activities will be followed by Story and Rhyme sessions with counting songs and books. The sessions will encourage children to explore, investigate and learn, while supporting their parents and carers to access these activities.
  • Libraries at Night (Emma Hubbard, Bexley Library Services) - Building on Bexley’s bid to be the London Borough of Culture, this project will deliver an innovative cultural programme in library buildings at times they would normally be closed to the public. The programme will be used to develop a business case for a longer term approach to using libraries as evening venues. The project shows the potential for libraries to be at the heart of a local cultural offer, and will explore the long term feasibility of using libraries at night. 
  • STEMShops (Teresa Doyle, West Lothian Libraries) - Workshops for a range of STEM based activities, particularly but not exclusively targeting girls. STEMshops will include activities such as coding and robotics, and aim to engage more young people in libraries. By targeting young girls in particular, the project aims to overcome gender bias often prevalent in STEM environments.
  • #MyBooks (Nichola Farr, Brecon Library) - Promotion and fundraising through the purchase of library-themed greeting cards and bespoke merchandise. An Oxfam Unwrapped inspired project, greeting cards will include a fixed monetary donation, with the option to buy an additional gift of bespoke merchandise which can also be purchased separately. The project will promote the library service and experiment with fundraising in libraries, providing learning for the sector.

For more information about Carnegie Library Lab please click here.