To make the case effectively for libraries, we need robust evidence of the benefits and positive outcomes they provide to their users and local communities. In an earlier blog, we provided an update on Action 4 of our Libraries Deliver: Ambition document - identifying and commissioning further research work to be used as a shared evidence base by all.
We talked about how we’d mapped existing research (what’s already been done, is ongoing or planned) and published this on GOV.UK. We’ve updated this and republished it to include new research. We’ll continue to do this about once a month - please use this form to let us know if you’re aware of any new research we should include.
We also wanted to identify what future research was needed - again, we have now published a list of this on GOV.UK. We’ve prioritised these projects based on the results of the survey we conducted and workshops we ran earlier this year. We’ve split the research into phases, with phase 1 covering the higher priority projects we want to progress first. This phase includes 12 research projects across 2 categories: demonstrating the impact of library services (based around the 7 Outcomes described in Libraries Deliver: Ambition), and supporting the delivery and operation of library services.
The Taskforce will regularly monitor the priorities in order to take into account emerging ideas that arise. For example, we may want to consider having a specific piece of research around data privacy with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) next year.
So how are we going to do this?
We’re actively discussing with partners how the projects listed can be taken forward and will say more in future blogs when these are progressing.
One piece of good news is that we’ve already got agreement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to fund one of the pieces of research - an independent evaluation of the Libraries Opportunities for Everyone: innovation fund. We’re conducting an evaluation because we want to get an overview of activities undertaken by individual projects, insights on what was successful plus challenges faced, and identify lessons and suggestions for delivery of similar projects in the future. We also want to establish which projects would it be beneficial to scale up and roll out more widely.
Also, recent publications from the Arts Council contribute to some of the research proposals:
- Re-writing the story: the contribution of public libraries to place-shaping
- Stand by me: the contribution of public libraries to the well-being of older people
- Evidencing Libraries: Audience Reach Research findings and analysis
- Libraries as community hubs: Case studies and learning
As we sometimes get approaches from organisations interested in conducting / funding research into libraries, it’s really helpful to have an agreed list like this to point to during those conversations. That way, we ensure any research done really meets the needs of the sector. We’ll also to be sharing this list with universities to try and get students to consider these project ideas for their dissertations and PhDs.
If you want to find out more information on our research programme or are potentially interested in partnership with us in delivering one of the projects, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.