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Arts Council England announces 22 projects to test automatic library membership for children and young people


Arts Council England is today announcing the 22 projects that will share approximately £55,000* to test automatic library membership for children and young people. It is hoped these projects will lead to an increase in children, young people and families using their local libraries, and stimulate more reading for pleasure.

These projects are supported by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The projects include libraries working with:

· birth registration services to offer library cards at birth

· nurseries, schools and school library services to promote library memberships to local children and families

· leisure services to offer combined library and leisure cards for children and young people

Nicky Morgan, Director of Libraries, Arts Council England, said: “These projects will test out genuinely exciting, new ways of encouraging children, young people and families to join and access their local libraries.

“Libraries are the very heart of their communities and are centres of knowledge that are available for everyone to use. Through these projects, we hope that children and young people will be encouraged to use their libraries now and in the future, and will develop a real love for learning and a natural curiosity about the world around them.”

Elizabeth Truss, Education Minister, said: “It is crucial that every child develops a love of reading as early as possible in their life. These library card pilots will encourage a whole new generation of young readers to visit their local library to immerse themselves in the stories and adventures they may not have access to at home"

Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, said: “One of the greatest gifts we can bestow on our children is a love of books and reading. Joining a library at a young age is a fantastic route into a world of literature, entertainment and exploration and I very much look forward to seeing the results of these innovative library card pilots.”

The automatic library memberships will work towards achieving the Arts Council’s goals of ensuring that every child and young person has the opportunity to engage with their library service, and of ensuring that libraries are sustainable and resilient.

Arts Council England is working with the library sector to help create libraries which are at the heart of local communities, helping to inspire and empower people to lead active lives enriched by culture. More details of the Arts Council’s work with libraries, including the Libraries development initiative and a programme of research and debate entitled Envisioning the library of the future, can be found here.

Notes to Editors:

• Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

• * £10,000 of this money will be used for evaluation of all of the projects

• The projects are located in: Barking and Dagenham; Barnet; Brent; Brighton & Hove; Bristol; Havering; Lewisham; Medway; Norfolk Library and Information Service and School Library Service; Northamptonshire; Plymouth; Portsmouth; Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead; Sandwell; South Gloucestershire; Staffordshire; Surrey; Thurrock; Waltham Forest; Wiltshire; Worcestershire; York


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