Libraries Connected has secured £342,000 in funding from Arts Council England to develop a new training programme supporting potential female and BAME leaders.
The Leading Libraries scheme will recruit 15 emerging leaders from different library services, offering them development training and the chance to lead a project in their region.
It will also offer training for their heads of service on recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce. In addition, each emerging leader will mentor two members of staff from their own service.
A set of online resources will also be produced to ensure that libraries across the UK are able to access training.
Mark Freeman, president of Libraries Connected, explained: “We are delighted that the Arts Council’s are supporting our Leading Libraries project. Public libraries are facing unprecedented change and we need transformational leaders to help protect and develop local services.
“Leading Libraries is a fresh approach to transforming leadership - empowering emerging leaders to drive change across their service with a clear focus on promoting ethnic diversity and tackling barriers for women leaders.”
A study commissioned by CILIP in 2015 showed the library and information workforce was 78.1% female, yet 47% of men earned over £30,000 compared to just 37.3% of women. The figures also showed a huge 96.7% of the workforce identified as white.
Nick Poole, c.e.o. of CILIP, which is also supporting the new project, said: “We have bold, ambitious plans for the future of public libraries and their transformative impact on communities and we need a new generation of leaders to make these plans a reality. This programme will help us attract and develop new, diverse leadership talent to build the thriving, relevant and high-quality library sector of tomorrow.”
The grant is part of £7.1m in National Lottery funding being invested by Arts Council England through its Transforming Leadership Fund. Other organisations to secure money include the National Centre of Writing, which will receive £330,000.
Director of libraries at Arts Council England Sue Williamson said: “Transforming Leadership will support the development of diverse, effective leaders that are crucial to the sustainability of the cultural sector. This exciting programme led by Libraries Connected will drive long-term change, helping to ensure that a diverse range of people work in and lead our country’s libraries, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have.”