Libraries case studies

Here you will find a collection of case studies demonstrating how local authorities are using libraries to improve the lives of their residents.

The human library: innovating assess to information and connecting communities Toronto Public Library launched its 'Human Library' project. About 200 users ‘checked out' 60 interesting or inspiring people from the community; who sat and spoke to the users, many of whom would not have had the opportunity to meet people like them.

Missing media item. Discover how a library, built in conjunction with the construction of a new secondary school, benefits not only pupils but also the wider community of Dagenham and Barking.

Phoenix Centre case study Discover how the London Borough of Sutton has rejuvenated a once rundown estate with an award-winning, landmark community facility. The houses an innovative library with a self check in/out system, that recently secured The Guardian's Innovation Technology Award.

Inge Thornton, Birmingham community librarian, gives her account of how Birmingham libraries have worked with mental health patients over the last 15 years.

Missing media item. This case study looks at how Gloucester appointed a social inclusion officer to carry forward the new social inclusion strategy. One project involved using the proximity of libraries to health facilities as an advantage.

Missing media item. Gloucestershire County Council's libraries and information service launched a new partnership project with the NHS Primary Mental Health Service and the three Primary Care Trusts in the county. Read more about the Gloucestershire books on prescription project.

Missing media item. Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, and Walsall Councils have developed a libraries project that gives older people and ethnic minorities better access to ICT provision and to develop ICT skills. For further information, please contact Robert Johnson ( Missing media item. Cornwall County Council aims to increase the accessibility of their library services for vulnerable and excluded members of society with its home library service. For further information, please contact Amanda Hart (

Missing media item. Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) is looking to see how partnership arrangements with the NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) can help its libraries to deliver better outcomes for local people. For further information please contact, John Mellor (

Missing media item. This case study looks at how the London Borough of Barnet transformed an old, traditional, inaccessible library into a modern, vibrant, well-used one and improved the lives of many of the residents in Barnet. For further information, please contact Gill Harvey (

Partnership for Patients: London Libraries Development Agency case study This initiative seeks to help people in making a more informed choice of hospital. Read how the potentials of libraries and librarians as 'agents of choice' are being realised.

Bristol City Council Library Service case study Bedtime stories is a Bristol City Council library service project that has engaged inmates in the production of story CDs for their children.

Bodmin and Liskard case studies Discover how the two Cornish towns of Bodmin and Liskeard are extending children and young people's access to reading materials with a series of pioneering library projects.

Gloucestershire County Libraries, Arts and Museums Gloucestershire County Libraries undertook an initiative in which library clubs offered housebound users reader development and IT tutoring.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) publication ‘Community Engagement in Public Libraries: a Toolkit for Public Library Staff' includes an appendix containing a collection of case studies. The appendix is an introduction to Community Engagement for library staff and managers. It offers some suggestions on how to identify what your library is already doing in this area and to build on it for the future. There are top tips from staff already working in this field and help in planning community engagement work, developing new partnerships and building staff support.

MLA publications - once on this page, select the PDF ‘Community Engagement in Public Libraries: Toolkit Appendix B: Case studies (PDF 355KB)'

See also the MLA case studies database.