Arts Council funds further development of Universal Offers for public libraries

New Learning Offer to be created

News Release for 23 September 2014: The Society of Chief Librarians has secured investment from Arts Council England to further develop its Universal Offers for public libraries. The 155,500 pounds in funding will be used to expand on SCL’s four offers—Information, Health, Reading and Digital—and also develop a fifth, the Learning Offer.

Launched at The British Library in January 2013, the Universal Offers have given library services across the country a set of national tools, resources and partnerships which can be used locally in areas critical to customers’ lives and well being. More than 90% of libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have signed up and endorsed the offers.

The framework of the Universal Offers has also been crucial in explaining to library stakeholders the role that libraries play in people’s lives. They are a powerful advocacy tool for Heads of Service to use within their own local authority when making the case for libraries and evidencing the difference that they can make to communities.

Ciara Eastell, SCL President, says: The Universal Offers provide a positive and uniformed vision for public libraries. This additional investment will allow us to develop more resources and partnerships at a national level which will benefit every library, and also launch a new fifth offer dedicated to learning.

Alan Davey, Arts Council Chief Executive, says: The Arts Council understands that our libraries are an essential resource for people and communities in many different ways. We are therefore delighted to continue our support for the Universal Offers for public libraries. They make a significant contribution to delivering the priorities we set out in ‘Envisioning the library of the future,’ through sector-led initiatives and strong partnerships. We particularly welcome the new Learning Offer and expect it to inspire new conversations within and beyond local authorities, strengthening the crucial role that libraries continue to play.

The funding, which is split between each of the five offers, will be used to evaluate the success of the offers, aid the further development of the Health Offer, delivered in partnership with The Reading Agency, and create more learning opportunities for public library staff, including a digital leadership programme.


For more information please contact:

Elizabeth Elford

SCL Communications and Advocacy Manager

Mob: 07891 056 114 Email:


Notes to Editors

  • The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) is a local government association made up of the chief librarian of each library authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. SCL takes a leading role in the development of public libraries, through sharing best practices, advocating for continuous improvement on behalf of local people, and leading the debate on the future of the public library service.
  • Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the