A new £10,000 annual fund for libraries has been created by CILIP to help improve access to services.
The CILIP Library Fund will “not replace or duplicate core public funding for libraries”, but instead support a range of projects and activities in order to improve access to information and knowledge, literacy, health, digital inclusion and life chances. The fund will be populated with money raised through crowdfunding, encouraging legacies and corporate giving, The Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) said.
Kickstarted by an initial £10,000 investment, CILIP will implement a UK-wide crowd-funding campaign for individuals and companies to build up the fund with the aim of creating a new grants programme from 2018. Supporters will be able to plan and implement their own fundraising activities to contribute to the Library Fund.
Nick Poole, CILIP chief executive, said the fund has been created to enable library advocates to help support and protect services.
“There is so much support amongst the public, creative industries and businesses for the transformative services our sector provides”, Poole said. “Until now there hasn’t been a way for our supporters to help libraries provide additional services and activities that improve life chances and create a better society."
He added: “Libraries and information services in the public, private and third sectors make communities stronger, support research and innovation, and help businesses grow. Now our supporters can be part of the difference that we make.”
Alongside the Library Fund, CILIP has also pledged to lobby the government over its legal responsibilities towards libraries following accusations of "neglect" and "short-term thinking" in its approach to library services. According to figures from The Chartered Institue of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), 343 libraries have closed in the UK since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, while library funding has dropped by £180m. Public libraries received more than 265m visits in the financial year to 2015, but despite this "many library services are being put at risk" due to the government's disregard of the statutory nature of these services, CILIP said.
A recent BBC investigation revealed that the widespread library closures across the UK have resulted in the loss of almost 8,000 jobs in the last six years. The report also found that a future 111 libraries are facing closure this year.
One library under threat, the Carnegie Library in Brixton, has been termporarily closed while Lambeth Council turns it into a "healthy living centre" run by social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited. Last month, the library was occupied by campaigners for 10 days in protest over the plans. High profile writers, such as Stephen Fry, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin have also waded in over library closures in their areas.
Meanwhile, on Saturday (21st May) hundreds of people marched in protest over Lewisham Council's plans to close nine of the London borough's 12 libraries in order to cut costs.
The CILIP Library Fund will be open to applications from all parts of the information, knowledge and library sector. Applications will open in early 2018. The Fund will not be used to replace core funding for public libraries or other statutory services.