Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer, Carnegie UK TrustLibrary-Lab-Logo-blueJenny P V1

Carnegie Library Lab is the Carnegie UK Trust’s public library leadership and innovation programme. The programme – which launched in September 2014 – opened for the second round of applications on 10 November 2015. Jenny Peachey tells us more about the programme, how the current Carnegie Partners are getting on and how to apply for the second round ahead of the deadline later this month.


Innovation and leadership are critical features of any public service delivery. In public libraries, the ability to lead effectively while finding new ways of delivering services to the public is ever more important to enabling these much loved institutions to thrive within their local communities – contributing towards community wellbeing and providing trusted source for learning and information.
Carnegie Library Lab aims to add to the mix of initiatives available to public libraries by supporting innovation and leadership based learning and practice. The programme provides between £5,000 and £15,000 to successful applicants (‘Carnegie Partners’) – individual library staff in early to mid-management roles – to enable them to develop an innovative project in their library service.


Each Partner is assisted by a mentor who they can turn to for advice and input. Mentors are carefully selected by our Library Lab Advisory Group to ensure there is a synergy between their experience and the individual projects they are supporting. Partners also have access to a bespoke online learning programme, adapted from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation INELI programme, and are guided through this by Tom Forrest, our Carnegie Associate. Partners also have the opportunity to meet face-to-face and engage with one another via an online forum.

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In November 2014, seven Carnegie Partners from across the UK and Ireland embarked on the first round of Library Lab. Their projects range from library bikes to take to events and into the community, to virtual learning environments for parents of preschool children to boost literacy; from events to encourage the discovery and use of copyright-free works and digital rights, to creative writing workshops held after the library is officially closed to the public.


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The Partners have fed back that running their own project has helped them gain valuable skills, whilst the online learning has supported them to approach their work differently, inspiring new ideas and helping their confidence to grow. Without exception each Partner has also spoken highly of the input from their mentors – with this input fundamentally changing elements of some projects. Many of our Partners have also found that their networks have expanded as a result of their involvement with the programme, with some being invited to speak at the SCL Annual Seminar, the Edinburgh EDGE Conference and to the Task Force.


If you’re interested want to find out more about what it’s like to be a Partner, you can read about Partners’ experiences in their own words on the Library Taskforce, Public Library News and Trust blogs. We also have a project snapshot available to download.
The second round of Carnegie Library Lab will run May 2016 to October 2017 and we are looking to support 5-7 early to mid-management individuals during this time. If you are in the UK or Ireland and want to be part of our journey, please take a look at our application materials. We’d love to hear from you and are open for applications until 29 January 2016.