Time to Read Reader Strategy

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Reader Strategy 2016 - 2017

1. Introduction

2. Time To Read

1.1 The importance of reading Reading is a fundamental skill for life that most of us take for granted. Sharing books and reading stories with young children not only helps with the development of early language skills, it enables children to learn about the world in which they live and supports emotional bonding and wellbeing.

2.1 Background Time To Read is a unique partnership of 21 Library Authorities in NW England, working together to promote reading since 2002.

Reading widely into adulthood continues to enhance the development of the spoken language; it provides opportunities for enjoyment, relaxation and escapism, increasing an understanding of self and social identities, empathy, knowledge of other cultures, and community cohesion. Crucially, reading improves self-confidence and esteem; it empowers us to learn new things, improves employment prospects and our mental wellbeing. Reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. However, despite all this, currently approximately 16% of adults in England are functionally illiterate!

Reading improves self-confidence and self-esteem; it empowers us to learn new things, improves employment prospects and our mental wellbeing 1.2 The role of libraries in supporting reading Located at the centre of neighborhoods, libraries offer friendly, welcoming, neutral and safe spaces for people from all sections of the community, including the most vulnerable. They provide a diverse range of services, meaning that customers can often meet a range of needs at one time. Libraries now commonly provide: • Access to digital resources. A significant proportion of the population does not have an internet connection at home (23% according to the Office of National Statistics in 2011) • One-stop shops for a wide range of information, advice and support. Visitors to a building with a library service can meet a range of different needs at one time. However, support for books and reading remains at the center of the core purpose of the modern library service and as such libraries are ideally placed to work with readers helping to build literacy levels, educational attainment and therefore employability.

The NW region covers Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire, all of Greater Manchester and Greater Merseyside. The network’s activities are currently led by a coordinator managed by a steering group made up of representatives from the NW Society of Chief Librarians (NW SCL), Arts Council England and The Reading Agency. Authorities who have signed up as members to Time To Read benefit from the coordination of activity, support and shared resources across the NW. As a unified group, Time To Read can increase the quality of events and promotions, sharing resources, information and learning across the North West. This ensures we can make our current library stock and resources work harder for us, finding new ways for the public to engage with them. Time To Read has facilitated a number of successful high profile campaigns in recent years including the following: 2015 This Reading Business, a project supporting business support resources in libraries runs across all 21 authorities. Just 6 Minutes, a project raising awareness of the positive impact reading has on stress levels and highlighting to health partners the contributions libraries can make to positive health. 2014 Magic of Libraries short film produced as a library advocacy tool. 2013 Try Reading project linked to the Rugby World Cup secured a £200k Arts Council England G4A grant to support reading in 20 authorities across the NW and Yorkshire/Humberside. 19 authorities in the NW participate. 2012 Poetry Places, funded by an Arts Council England G4A grant promoted the work of 12 poets via print materials and events. Collections of poetry books added to stocks. 2011 Reading Places, a promotion of travel writing rolled out across all NW authorities. 2010 Pages Ago, a major promotion of Historical fact & Fiction supported with an Arts Council England G4A grant.

Libraries make access to reading materials free and easily available, providing the community with: • A cultural asset, often the only cultural experience for many people • An open, friendly, non-stigmatised and non-commercial atmosphere • Reading spaces in every community, often where there are no bookshops: actual or virtual places where reader opinions can be shared. By making reading a ‘social’ activity e.g. through reading groups, the library is a force for social cohesion (The Reader Friendly Library Service , Van Riel et al, 2008) • Helpful, expert staff to guide and support • The opportunity for risk free experimentation with reading • The chance for parents to provide their children with access to the richness of children’s literature for free • Access to a ‘backlist’ of materials; libraries hold out of print stock giving access to a wide range of work by individual writers, not just current ones. Through the interlending system, libraries provide the opportunity for the public to get access to any book.

Reader Strategy

2.2 Strategic Objectives of Time To Read The Strategic Objectives of Time To Read are as follows: • To add value to 21 authorities’ reader development work e.g. resources, materials, ideas, shared projects to support widening participation in reading. • To raise sector profile promoting the role of libraries delivery of the five Universal Offers (Information, Health, Reading, Digital and Learning). • To coordinate marketing, digital profile and liaison with partners, saving time and resources across authorities. • To encourage cross working across different directorate anatomies e.g. arts, heritage, public health, leisure, communities etc to meet mutually beneficial outcomes. • To provide networking opportunities supporting motivation, inspiration, and creativity. • To encourage collaborative working enabling experimentation. • To pool resources achieving economies of scale. • To identify opportunities for income generation. • To provide one point of liaison with publishers and other partners. • To look at ways to promote and use our current stock and resources, making it work harder. In addition, prior to the recent appointment of a new Time To Read Coordinator in November 2015, the NW Society of Chief Librarians undertook a piece of work to determine the future of Time To Read and clarify its priorities. Findings from this group were clear of the joint working benefits of the Time To Read initiative and wanting the partnership to continue to grow. Future priorities identified included: • Income generation • Raising sector profile • Building capacity • CPD and training programme delivery • Adding value to under-resourced authorities • Collaborative working enabling experimentation It was also acknowledged that the transition to a new coordinator would be an appropriate time to re-focus the activities of this role to involve a stronger IT and digital emphasis.

2.3 Time To Read and the Universal Offers The Society of Chief Librarians and partners including Arts Council England and The Reading Agency are committed to keeping library services relevant and accessible. Together they have identified five key areas of service which today’s users regard as integral to public libraries and developed a shared strategy for the future. www.goscl.com/universal-offers/about-universal-offers/ Time To Read will continue to support these Universal Offers and encourage authorities that any reader development activity has the Universal Offers at its core: a) Reading Offer: Builds on public demand for a lively and engaging reading offer with reading groups, challenges, promotions and author events. It aims to focus libraries’ attention and efforts on promoting key shared reading programmes. It is supported by the reading calendar, a toolbox of reading programmes and a raft of national partnerships. (SCL) All reader development work supports the Universal Reading Offer. The Reading Agency has developed a calendar of priorities to help with targeting resources. The Time To Read calendar also lists additional key dates which offer opportunities for promoting reading. www.time-to-read.co.uk/resources/calendar b) Health Offer: This strategy expresses the public library contribution to the positive health and well-being of local communities. (SCL) and is specifically delivered through Reading Well Books on Prescription, both core and Dementia lists, and Mood-boosting Books schemes. Other reading activity which delivers a health outcome include bibliotherapy reading groups, Get Into Reading groups and Just 6 Minutes (TTR) which specifically support the health offer. Research suggests that regular reading is associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of dementia. It can reduce stress levels by 68%. Taking part in social reading activity like reading groups can help people feel less isolated and develop mental concentration and mental agility. www.readingagency.org.uk/news/reading-facts003/ A recent Arts Council England report studies the economic health impacts of library services: www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/Health_and_wellbeing_benefits_of_public_libraries_full_report.pdf c) Information Offer: The focus is on libraries’ role in supporting people to access information and services online in life- critical areas such as careers and job seeking; health, personal financial information and benefits. Central to this offer is helping people to use vital government online information services. (SCL) Staff training is central to this offer. Time To Read is starting to build a bank of online training modules, accessible to NW TTR authorities and this will continue to grow. Reading promotions which link to careers, job-seeking, health information, financial & benefits information. In NW libraries, recent promotions Just 6 Minutes (2014/15) and This Reading Business (2015) are partially delivering the information offer. d) Digital Offer: This offer recognises that the development of digital services, skills and access underpins so much of a 21st century library service. As such, it supports and enables the delivery of all of the Universal Offers. (SCL) Promoting books and reading digitally, delivers this offer e.g. use of websites and social media platforms to share book news and opinion. E-book lending is a growth area for libraries. Any promotion of digitised content e.g. rare and valuable books, local history records etc. Training in use of digital services, delivers the Information Offer as well as the Digital Offer.

Reader Strategy

e) Learning Offer: This offer is a strategic planning framework which allows public library services to plan, develop and promote their role and contribution to lifelong learning. Libraries are there throughout an individuals learning journey because they are in their local area and they are open and accessible to all. The Universal Learning Offer is supported by over 90% of libraries across England, which have all signed up for the first time ever to provide: • Free resources for study and learning, such as online resources and courses, text books and reference books • Study/learning spaces for children, young people and adults in the library service • Information about a range of free and low cost and local learning opportunities such as courses and study groups • Opportunities to explore and be creative, including workshops, regular groups and/or special events for children, young people and families • Places where communities and individuals can develop and share ideas and learn together. The Universal Learning Offer in public libraries has been developed so that children, young people and families will be able to build their confidence and skills with their creativity, coding and digital skills, The Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) agenda will be supported across a broader community setting, in libraries with support and help for beginners with enthusiasts and experts. The offer will give families more opportunities to learn together, on a variety of subjects and helped to move through from literacy to fluency. People will grow new skills; find more job opportunities and stimulating experience in their local area, in a friendly and welcoming environment. www.goscl/universal-offers/learning-offer.com

Resources Advocating Reader Development Work Resources Advocating Reader Development Work • Links to research, speeches, reports linked to reader development projects are available: • The Reading Agency website see http://readingagency.org.uk/tag/research/ and www.readingagency.org.uk/news/reading-facts003/ • A concise 2015 report which explores the emotional, social & psychological benefits to adults, of regular reading for pleasure. Includes a lot of statistics and comments http: www.quickreads.org.uk/assets/downloads/docs/Galaxy-Quick-Reads-Report-FINAL%20.pdf • There are messages about the value of reading in groups on the website of The Reader Organisation. www.thereader.org.uk/what-we-do-and-why/community-library.aspx • A comprehensive website & blog which cumulates news and information about the many changes happening to public libraries. www.publiclibrariesnews.com • Voices for the Library aims to provide opinions about the public library service in the UK, the role of professional librarians and provide a space for library users to share their stories about the difference public libraries have made to their lives. http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/ • Speaking Volumes is a recent and useful leaflet which sets out key benefits of libraries as social hubs, cultural centres, learning hubs and economic enablers. The leaflet describes how libraries achieve these roles and what outcomes can be seen. www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/publications/2014/speaking-volumes • Literacy is vital for improving employment prospects: 16% adults in England are functionally illiterate. See From www.readingagency.org.uk/news/library-facts004/library-facts.html

2.4 Time To Read Priorities 2016/17 To ensure that the strategic objectives are met, the following areas of activity have been identified for the period 2016/17 • Income Generation - identify a range of suitable funding streams which support the Universal Offers and agreed themes that can be delivered across the Time To Read group • Raising Sector Profile and Advocacy - identify channels to communicate the Time To Read messages • Add Value to Current Reader Development Work - continue to support opportunities for sharing of ideas, good practice and innovations

Reader Strategy

For more information contact:

Clancy Mason Time To Read Strategic Lead for Reader Development e: clancy.masonttr@blackpool.gov.uk | w: www.time-to-read.co.uk