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READING FUND 'RESOUNDINGLY SUCCESSFUL' SAYS ARTS MINISTER

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An independent study into a library funding scheme has found that it ...
An independent study into a library funding scheme has found that it

was 'resoundingly successful' in promoting short term reading

initiatives, arts minister Baroness Blackstone has announced.

The evaluation study, undertaken by the University of Brighton,

looked at the 33 library projects around the country funded by the

DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund. The projects were

designed to promote the pleasures of reading and library use to new

readers from all walks of life.

The study reported that there 'was significant evidence of creativity

and innovation throughout the programme' and stated that libraries

linked up with a variety of other groups to deliver projects,

including prison services, social services, businesses and voluntary

agencies. More than 70 library authorities and other organisations

were involved in at least one project funded through the programme.

Tessa Blackstone said:

'I am delighted that the study showed such positive results arising

from DCMS/Wolfson funding. It is encouraging that so many public

libraries and reading agencies took up our challenge and came up with

such an interesting range of projects. I am pleased that 11 of the

projects are still being carried out and congratulate all those

involved for the hard work and commitment that they put into them.'

Among the projects were:

- A hip-hop extravaganza, The Beat, at Leeds Central Library. The

project featured breakdance crews, a professional DJ, grafitti

artists and performance poetry

- Talking Eyes in Merton which saw a range of technology specifically

for visually impaired people introduced into the library

- Reading Lifelines which involved rock climbing in Lancashire, rock

groups performing in Bolton and the establishment of reading groups

in a women's refuge and a homeless shelter.

There were also book clubs, cultural events, IT workshops, creative

writing groups, reading groups, storytelling sessions and homework

clubs.

Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries,

administers the Public Libraries Challenge Fund. Its Chairman,

Matthew Evans, said:

'This programme showed public libraries working with partners

including social services, education and community services to create

a lively range of reader development activities, many using ICT in

innovative ways. Libraries are contributing directly to the

Government's social inclusion agenda.'

Last year, the programme awarded grants to a further 16 projects

including those that promoted basic skills, those working with young

teenage readers and those working with children in care.

Notes

1. Reading our future: evaluation of the DCMS/Wolfson Public

Libraries Challenge Fund 2001-2002 is available on Resource's

website at www.resource.gov.uk. Resource: the Council for Museums,

Archives and Libraries, administers the Public Libraries Challenge

Fund on behalf of DCMS and the Wolfson Foundation. The Wolfson

Foundation is a charitable trust which promotes the advancement of

health, education, the arts and humanities.

2. A full list of the projects involved in the 2000-2001

DCMS/Wolfson Reader Development Programme is below.

3. The DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund was established

in 1997 to give£3m per year for three years to projects to

enhance library services in England. In 2001-2002, over£2m

of this was allocated to the Reader Development Programme. Some

£113,000 was allocated to the Wolfson British History Programme to

create and enhance history collections in public libraries and to

interpret them, in particular, for young people.

4. Key facts about the public library service:

- 58 per cent of the adult population hold library membership -

that's nearly 34 million library tickets. There were 330 million

visits made to libraries in 1999-2000.

- 10 million people, drawn from all ages and social groups, use their

public library regularly - at least once a fortnight.

- There are 4,870 libraries in the UK (including 666 mobile

libraries), plus 16,434 service points in hospitals, prisons, old

people's homes etc.

- There are 121,318,000 books in the public library service, or 2.04

books per person, occupying 3,600 km of shelving, 2.5 times the

distance from Land's End to John o'Groats.

- Visiting the library is the fifth most popular pastime in the UK.

The first four are visiting a pub, eating in a restaurant, driving

for pleasure and eating in a fast-food restaurant.

Projects funded by the DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund

Reader Development Programme 2000/01.

The list gives the lead organisation for each project. Many

applications were from partnerships involving several library

authorities.

Arts and Business London £24,000

Barking and Dagenham £60,000

Barnet £160,739

Bexley £47,571

Birmingham £149,645

Brent £49,758

Cheshire £30,348

Cumbria £49,980

East Riding £70,982

Essex £67,358

Essex £15,000

Gatehouse £50,940

Gateshead £23,605

Hackney £66,649

Hammersmith and Fulham £116,823

Kirklees £45,000

Launchpad £98,600

Leeds £67,200

Merton £32,225

Milton Keynes £7,500

National Library for the Blind £61,800

Northumberland £50,808

North West Libraries

Book Promotion Partnership £215,992

Oldham £20,368

Peterborough £20,673

Prison Libraries Group £53,900

Public Libraries Group £89,506

Shropshire £23,775

Southampton £14,592

Southwark £25,189

Sutton £7,842

Walsall £20,981

Worcestershire £63,600

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