Lewisham's Future Library Programme

The DCMS (day job client) has today announced that Lewisham is among the group of local authorities taking part in the government's "Future Library Programme". The statement says:

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.

Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey said:
“A strong library service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services...

Closer Working in South East London (Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark)

The Future Libraries Programme is an exciting opportunity to deliver a step change across library services in South East London. Through it, Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark, will look at options and opportunities for improving quality and reducing costs by working more closely together.

These library authorities - members of the South East Libraries Performance Improvement Group (SELPIG) - will build on individual strengths and distinctive features, to retain and improve best practice models and introduce new solutions.

We're not entirely sure at this stage what any of this actually means, although it sounds as though Lewisham's libraries could be sustained by broadening the range of community services provided - an approach we've been arguing for since the consultation on their future was first announced. It could be good news for people campaiging to save our libraries from closure since those leading the pilot are unlikely to want a 'Future Library Programme' to result in a future without libraries.