Supporting libraries

Hand drawn iIllustration by Supermundane with lots of intricate lines and patterns

Arts Council England is the development agency for libraries in England. Our focus is on public libraries, which operate within a wider framework of library provision and local and national government services.

It is our view that there is a clear, compelling and continuing need for a publicly funded library service. Public libraries are trusted spaces, free to enter and open to all. In them, people can explore and share reading, information, knowledge and culture. We know that libraries play a broad role in their communities, and we take particular interest in the ways that library spaces can be used to connect the public with other cultural activities.

Libraries contribute to the wider goals of both national and local government, as well as the communities that they serve. We work with the leaders of library services and other partners to shape what we hope our libraries in England will look like in the future.

Find out more

A young girl with a cardboard lens over her camera takes a photo in a gallery.

Keys to the Kingdom

Listen to our podcast: Neil Gaiman talks to Toby Litt about libraries and librarians


Read our #libraryletters for National Libraries Day and show your support for libraries

Latest news, blog posts and case studies

A person's hands hold an open book

Evaluation matters

Laura Venning on how we can get better at evaluating projects that encourage reading

A piece of Lipie bread held up against pattered wallpaper

A taste of home

The culinary tastes of a Black Country town are going on tour as a new exhibition by photographer Liz Hingley goes on display.

Image captions
Top left to bottom right: 1. The Book Hive. Photo © Rusty Squid 2. Readers at the opening of Manchester Central Library. Photo © Joel Fildes 3. Children engage with Joseph Coelho's Tree Child on the Spark Arts tour. Photo © Pamela Raith Photography / The Spark Arts. 4. Reopening of Manchester Central Library, March 22nd 2014. Photo © Joel C. Fildes for Arts Council England 5. We Forgot the Lot! 2015. Photo © Tate / Sam Robinson. 6. No Credit Displaying 7. Liverpool Library on National Libraries Day 2016 © Graham Lucas Commons 8. Man doing pottery 9. Warwickshire Libraries Fantastic Fun with Words Festival. Photo © Arts Council England / Alan Fletcher 10. Papers at the Lounge a bi-monthly news reading group at Lewisham Libraries 2014-15 © Deptford Lounge and Ampersand Media. Credit Pepper Pictures 11. Photo © Joao Silas 12. Lipie bread, a Romanian recipe, Home Made in Smethwick © Liz Hingley, 2014 to 2016. Commissioned and produced by Multistory. 13. Land Speed Record Toys. Photo © Tom Wood / National Motor Museum 14. 'Transe Express' by Seachange Arts at the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts, 2015. Photo © David Street / Streetview Marketing 15. Rifco Arts: Break the Floorboards @ Watford Palace Theatre, 2013. Photo © Manuel Harlan. 16. New Wolsey Youth Theatre's Through The Looking Glass. Photo © Mike Kwasniak 17. Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery. Photo © RAMM Exeter 18. Musiko Musika's ECCO Concert at Southbank Centre, February 2014. Photo © Harriet Armstrong / Musiko Musika. 19. It's A Wonderful Life by New Wolsey Theatre. Photo © Mike Kwasniak. 20. Love is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. Photo © Andy Keate