Ten library services around the country will receive a share of £450,000 designed to help promote business and entrepreneurship.
The London Borough of Enfield, Devon Libraries, Portsmouth Central Library, Haringey Libraries, Norfolk Library and Information Service, Hull City Council Library Service, Northamptonshire Libraries, Manchester City Council, Hounslow's Cultural Community Solution, and Middlesbrough Libraries are those selected for the Enterprising Libraries scheme.
The scheme has been established by Arts Council England (ACE), the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The money will be used to support local economic growth, by turning libraries into spaces that can help start-up businesses, providing coaching, advice, meeting spaces and IT support. It follows on from a model at the British Library, which runs a Business and IP Centre, providing advice to small businesses on IP issues.
Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “Libraries are a powerful resource and these projects really demonstrate how innovative, and forward-thinking public libraries are in this day and age. Yes, libraries are about reading and accessing information, but they are also at the heart of their communities, and can provide hugely useful tools for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses.”
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Libraries are the ideal place for people to go and get support for their great ideas. They are now well placed to be the places that kickstart new business and school self-starters… These ten libraries could be where the next generation of young entrepreneurs emerge from and that is a fantastic prospect for us all."
The Enterprising Libraries scheme has already been rolled out in six city-centre libraries in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle, were a network of Business and IP Centres has been created. It is hoped that the newly selected libraries will work within this network.
ACE's report, Envisioning the Library of the Future, described libraries as a key way of boosting economic growth and supporting social mobility in local areas.