The challenge – reinventing the local public library
The traditional local public library is believed to be in decline and under threat. Yet these vital spaces, often at the heart of the community, have huge potential for bringing people together while increasing access to learning, technology and even business.
We want to transform and re-energise the concept of the library. Our mission is to rethink and reinvent local public libraries to make them relevant and self-sustaining.
Carillion is the market leader in managing and operating public library services in England. We currently manage library services for four London local authorities: Croydon, Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow.
We are also responsible for libraries’ facilities management and provide support functions including HR, procurement and finance, for three of the boroughs.
The solutions we created – creating strategic partnerships
Technology is critical to increasing access to libraries. We have invested widely, from introducing self-service technology in Croydon, to creating a dedicated business portal for Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow, and offering free Wi-Fi in all sites.
We believe that partnerships are the key to keeping library services relevant and vital. In these four boroughs alone we have developed over 60 partnerships some local and some more strategic.
We have a long-standing relationship with the University of Sheffield to explore the future role of libraries within society. Following on from this research Carillion and the University of Sheffield are working together to develop a library management system for the future.
Another strategic partnership is with LEGO® Education, this partnership resulted in the launch of a series of LEGO® Education workshops within libraries. The interactive LEGO Education resources WeDo and StoryStarter help children to stretch their imagination, boost their literacy and numeracy skills, and develop their understanding of technology.
Our libraries are the first in the UK to have this partnership and we are part of the initial First LEGO League Junior event run in the UK.
Working with Wimbletech, we have launched ‘Workary’ co-working spaces for business start-ups in three libraries. We have also participated in numerous reading and library projects, including the formation of code clubs and testing a story app. There are now Amazon lockers (for self-service delivery and pick up of books purchased from the website) in 14 libraries.
Outcomes, benefits & social value – creating a legacy of best practice and sustainability
There were six million visits across these four London boroughs in 2015, and the services attracted 75,000 new members in the same year. Attendance at events held in the libraries rose by over 12% in nine months. Attendee and volunteer numbers rose significantly at summer reading challenge events.
Service innovation and partnership working are critical to the sustainability of libraries, as well as efficiencies in service delivery. The contract is monitored through monthly reporting and client meetings, and it is measured using key performance indicators.
- London’s top 10 library cards – the Guardian