Arts Council England (ACE) has released a document outlining its approach to library strategy.
Culture, Knowledge and Understanding: Great Museums and Libraries for Everyone is said by ACE to be designed to provide certainty about which programmes ACE will run in 2011-15, including the Future Libraries Programme, and to solicit further debate about the directions the body should take in the long term.
ACE will run a two-stage approach for the Future Libraries Programme over the next 18 months, with the first stage delivered in partnership with the Local Government Group (LGG).
"This will focus on the immediate challenges faced by libraries in the current climate, and the LGG will identify a number of authorities for the Arts Council to support in implementing the ideas and best practice that came out of the original programme," said ACE.
This learning will be developed into "expert guidance" which will support the second stage of the programme, set to focus on long-term goals and on encouraging local partnerships and innovation.
The document also offers general steers on the approach the Arts Council is taking, including that it is "keen to see museums and libraries continuing to innovate in their approaches to engaging with communities and making more effective use of volunteers" and that it sees "real opportunities to achieve economies of scale and greater impact where museums and libraries are . . . sharing their assets in collaboration with one another and with external partners".
The document warns that ACE will have "relatively few funds" to invest in the sector and says it will "focus our investment on those excellent and forward-thinking museums and libraries best able to drive innovation, care for their collections and share learning".