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Rethinking Public Libraries - James Reckitt Library Trust Publishes Major Report

The Trust has published a wide-ranging and radical report on the future of public libraries in Hull.  The report, entitled Rethinking public library services in Hull: a framework for transformation and growth, is also seen as a significant contribution to the national debate about the future of public libraries.

The report sets out a new vision for public libraries that highlights their role in building strong, knowledgeable communities.  It insists that libraries are not in the book business.  The business of librarians is to help people expand their knowledge and understanding of themselves, their lives, and the world about them.  Librarians are in the business of knowledge, learning, creativity and imagination.

The report sets out the many ways in which Hull’s librarians are already fulfilling that mission, and argues for the contribution that libraries are capable of making towards meeting the needs and aspirations of an increasingly ambitious city.

It recognises, however, that damage has been done to the library service over a long period of austerity.  The report sets out a new business model designed to reverse this trend.  Partnership with other sectors – public, voluntary and private – and new forms of community engagement and enterprise management are central to this new model.

The report also incorporates the Trust’s advocacy of the Library of Hull, a new development in the centre of the city designed to be an international exemplar of what public libraries have to offer in the 21st century.  Details of this project, newly named Destination Sweet Minerva, will be released soon.

Finally the report calls for a formal partnership between the City Council and the James Reckitt Library Trust with a view to developing a new strategic plan for the library service along with a new financial strategy capable of delivering the significant levels of investment – into physical infrastructure, digital transformation, organisational development and marketing – that are required to underpin sustainable transformation of Hull’s public libraries.

Dr Richard Heseltine, Chair of the Trust, was proud to publish the report:

"It provides a framework for the development of a vibrant and progressive 21st century library service,’ he said, ‘capable of making a significant contribution to the reinvention and development of our city.  It seems only right that a rethinking of library services should be done in the name of Sir James Reckitt, one of the original pioneers of public libraries, and in the year when Hull is so memorably fulfilling its status as UK City of Culture."

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