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First ten areas to join Future Library Programme announced

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey has announced that communities around the country will have the chance to test drive an ambitious change programme for libraries. The Future Libraries Programme, formed by a partnership between national and local government, and driven by councils themselves, aims to help the library service during the current challenging financial situation, with an ambition to ensure libraries play a central role for communities in the Big Society. Fifty one submissions, representing over 100 local authorities, have come forward with proposals for innovative collaborations and initiatives – ten of these projects will be taken forward and offered practical support and advice in this first phase.

The programme will initially undertake intensive, proactive work on ten projects representing around three dozen local authorities. Bids to take part were assessed on their individual strengths, but also to ensure a balance of the type of project, geographical spread, and rural and urban mix to help ensure the programme shares learning nationally.

The ten phase one areas are:

Northumberland with Durham
Bolton, with Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan
Lincolnshire, with Rutland, Cambridgeshire, North East Lincs, Peterborough
Oxfordshire with Kent
Herefordshire with Shropshire
Cornwall with Devon, Plymouth, Torbay
Lewisham with Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark
Kensington & Chelsea with Hammersmith & Fulham

The programme promises to build momentum on the ideas that have been generated and spread learning between library authorities to achieve cost savings, new partnerships and governance models, and to take advantage of digital opportunities. Central to the programme is the vision for library services to have greater connection with other local services and an ambition for services to be designed around the needs of the public, rather than based on organisational boundaries.

The Museums Libraries and Archive Council (MLA) and the LGA Group (Local Government Association Group) will begin work immediately with packages of support and advice for each of the projects. As work gets underway with the initial ten projects, planning for the second phase of the Programme will press ahead to ensure the successes and experiences of each project can be collected and shared with library authorities across England so that the results of the programme can benefit people throughout the country.