Sandwell Council welcomes funding to extend access to libraries

Sandwell Council has welcomed £495,000 funding from the Government’s Cultural Investment Fund via the Arts Council England’s Libraries Improvement Fund which will be used to pilot a different way of working for the borough’s public libraries.

 The funding will enable Library+ technology to be piloted at Thimblemill Library in Smethwick. Library+ is a new way for libraries to maintain and extend their opening hours: the community will be able to access library services beyond the current opening hours without staff needing to be present.
Library users will need to sign up to an additional agreement and have an induction. They will then be able to enter the library using their card and a personal identification number.
The funding will enable the new model to roll-out this technology to ten other libraries within the borough later in the year, including Cradley Heath, Great Bridge and Langley. 

Libraries Improvement Fund will enable library services across England to invest in a range of projects to upgrade buildings and technology so they are better placed to respond to the changing ways people are using them.
The criteria for the LIF have been set by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Arts Council England. The grants are administered, awarded and monitored by Arts Council England. Funding has been provided by DCMS.
The aims of the fund are to: 

  • Enable libraries to develop more flexible, more commercial spaces 
  • Increase and improve digital access within communities 
  • Connect libraries to their communities 
  • Increase potential for transformation 
  • Increase library use  
  • Increase sustainability of libraries

Councillor Danny Millard, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for culture and tourism, said:
“We thank Arts Council England and DCMS for awarding this funding to Sandwell Libraries, which are so important to our communities. Our libraries’ opening times are now back to their pre-pandemic hours, and this funding will enable us to invest in our fantastic services, extending the hours when libraries will be available to our communities.

"This will enable more community groups to use our library spaces, increase the number of users accessing our collections and services, and support our libraries in adopting new, innovative approaches.”


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