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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Arts Council England consultation: opportunities for libraries

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Outcome: culture, Taskforce

Graphic of 3 silhouettes of heads and shoulders. The Communities icon for Libraries Deliver.[Editor’s note: this post was written by Anthony Hopkins, Head of Library, Heritage & Adult Education Service for the London Borough of Merton]

It’s been 7 years since Arts Council England (ACE) took over the sector development duties of the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) Council and, with a lot of constructive engagement between, we have seen a number of initiatives to develop our sectors. Arts Council is currently consulting with individuals and organisations on the development of its next 10-year strategy from 2020 to 2030.

A school girl playing with a Tree Child in the library.
Children engage with Joseph Coelho's Tree Child on the Spark Arts tour. Photo credit: Pamela Raith Photography / The Spark Arts

From a local authority perspective, where it is difficult to see beyond the next few years of budget settlements, these kind of strategies can sometimes feel a little removed from the day-to-day. However, think again and the new strategy presents some tremendous opportunities for libraries and museums.

  1. It will be the first time that the strategy has specifically incorporated libraries and museums from the outset of its creation and it’s important that the sector responds to the consultation to make sure that it is well represented.
  2. The Libraries Taskforce’s ‘Libraries Deliver – Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021’ will expire shortly after the publication of Arts Council’s new strategy. It is important that the work represented in this document is incorporated and further developed into the next decade to show a strong and vibrant sector that is adapting to change.
  3. Libraries and museums funding has now been mainstreamed into Arts Council pots. A greater understanding of the contribution that public libraries and museums make to culture, and better collaboration with arts and cultural organisations, is one way that we can make funding go further and increase the vibrancy of our collective offer. We also have library services who have recently acquired NPO (National Portfolio Organisation) status and the Society of Chief Librarians’ own journey to becoming a Sector Support Organisation within the National Portfolio presents exciting times for the sector. [Ed - we plan a series of blog posts to illustrate this very soon]

What should libraries do?

To find out how to feed your views in, and for further information on the consultations, please visit the Arts Council 10 year strategy page.

Beyond the consultation, there is also a call for evidence. I know that a number of colleagues have collected really useful data not only in support of their Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund projects, but for other activities they deliver. We also collect a raft of data that feeds into social, health and economic agendas, and the call for evidence is a useful way of demonstrating how libraries and museums are delivering against wider agendas, so I encourage you to think about sharing material that will support the questions asked in the consultation.


Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DCMS or the Libraries Taskforce.

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  1. Comment by Christine Fishwick posted on

    I would like to be part of the Public Conversation regarding empowerment of the library workforce for Darlington Crown Street Library. It appears that our Council are determined to remove our perfectly adequate library service from the gifted purpose built building and shoe-horn it within our Dolphin Centre Sports Complex. The building is beautiful and has so much potential that it should be enhanced as the town's focal point, future library, museum, local studies, and art gallery. Without this facility we will lose the latter three and I and many others in this town believe that a library is much more than books.

    • Replies to Christine Fishwick>

      Comment by Pete posted on

      Hi Christine you can join the public conversation on the online platform here You need to sign up to take part, but once you are in the platform you can post your question under the 'Call for Ideas' section, and everyone in the community can then respond and join in with the discussion.