Young library volunteers encouraged by Reading Agency scheme

The Reading Agency and the government have together launched a new initiative working with local authority library services across the UK to create a "Youth Innovation Network" of librarians, which aims to generate thousands of volunteering opportunities in public libraries for 11-25 year olds.

The initiative will be delivered in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), and the Association of Senior Children's and Education Librarians (ASCEL). It is funded by a £127,000 grant from the Cabinet Office's Social Action Fund.

Civil society minister Nick Hurd unveiled the scheme at Canada Water library in Southwark today, meeting young volunteers. More than 70 town halls have already signed up to the library youth network.

The Reading Agency will co-ordinate the network and provide new training and resources for librarians on how to engage young volunteers and run volunteering programmes. The volunteering opportunities are likely to include designing new library services, organising author events, reading with children, and using library space and computers to tell stories about their community via social media.

Miranda McKearney, director of The Reading Agency, said: "Young people are having a really tough time, so we’re delighted to be able to give libraries extra support to create important new volunteering opportunities to support reading in the community. The Network builds on libraries’ long standing experience of involving volunteers, extending this to build year round volunteering opportunities.  These opportunities will help young people develop their communication, literacy and civic participation skills, and unleash their passion for helping to create a better society."