Press release

'Enterprising libraries' receive £450,000 to support local businesses of the future

Ten leading ‘enterprising libraries’ will receive a share of £450,000 to help local people get started in business.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Drill Hall library.

Ten leading ‘enterprising libraries’ will receive a share of £450,000 to help local people get started in business, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Arts Council England and the British Library announced today (3 October 2013).

As part of wider action to support local economic growth, Enterprising Libraries turn library spaces into incubators for business ideas by provide coaching, advice, meeting spaces, and IT support to people interested in developing a proposal and taking it to the market.

The projects are focused on fostering entrepreneurship by supporting budding business minds in the local community who are interested in becoming self-employed. The funding being announced today will help more people access the same kind of services across the country.

Enterprising Libraries recognise that library services and spaces are ideally placed to work with local people and are about making information and advice freely available, in the heart of communities. It builds on the successful model of the British Library’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre in London - which supports small businesses and entrepreneurs to protect their ideas and exploit new market opportunities through the provision of free access to up-to-the-minute business and intellectual property information and expertise. This is accompanied by a range of workshops, events and one-to-one advice delivered by information specialists and business experts.

Interesting examples of work funded through the 10 libraries projects that help to build on this vision of libraries include:

  • the London Borough of Enfield, who already operate various business and individual support programmes; with this funding they will expand this programme, and focus on students as the next generation of entrepreneurs, particularly as this age group are the largest unemployed demographic nationally

  • Portsmouth Central Library, who will create a space dedicated to business in the library, and develop a virtual business information network across Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Southampton

  • Northampton Libraries, who will be working closely with the British Library, and will focus on opening up resources to hard to reach groups, including women living in rural areas, improving access to business information across Northampton’s libraries, and establishing a delivery model that can be replicated by other services across the country

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

Libraries are the ideal place for people to go and get support for their great ideas. They are now well placed to be the places that kickstart new business and school self-starters. Enterprising Libraries will ensure that the immense potential that exists in communities is tapped into and that local economic growth is supported across the country.

These 10 libraries could be where the next generation of young entrepreneurs emerge from and that is a fantastic prospect for us all.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:

Libraries are a powerful resource and these projects really demonstrate how innovative, and forward-thinking public libraries are in this day and age. Yes, libraries are about reading and accessing information, but they are also at the heart of their communities, and can provide hugely useful tools for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said:

Libraries have an important role to play as catalysts for enterprise and growth, as proven by the success of the British Library’s own Business and Intellectual Property Centre and our existing partnerships with other city libraries. The Business and Intellectual Property Centre in Newcastle alone has helped to create over 66 new businesses and over 200 additional jobs in the local area since opening in 2011.

We’re thrilled that the Enterprising Libraries project will be helping 10 further libraries to make connections with the business community in their area, and we look forward to working together to unlock the potential of Britain’s entrepreneurs.

The Enterprising Libraries project has already worked with 6 core city libraries in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle to develop plans for a co-branded network of Business and Intellectual Property Centres, all of which will provide free access to business and intellectual property information and expertise. The 10 libraries funded today will be able to work closely with this network to further spread these resources amongst communities across the country.

The Arts Council’s recent research programme Envisioning the Library of the Future highlighted the potential of libraries to be catalysts of local economic growth and enterprise, that support improved social mobility in local areas. Enterprising Libraries is part of the work to deliver change around the priorities found in this research.

Further information

The 10 library services awarded funding today are: London Borough of Enfield (£45,000); Devon Libraries (£45,000); Portsmouth Central Library (£44,990); Haringey Libraries, Archives and Museum Service (£45,000); Norfolk Library and Information Service (£41,950); Hull City Council Library Service (£45,000); Northamptonshire Libraries (£45,000); Manchester City Council (£45,000); Cultural Community Solution London (£45,000); Middlesbrough Libraries (£45,000).

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

The Department for Communities and Local Government works to move decision-making power from central government to local councils. This helps put communities in charge of planning, increases accountability and helps citizens to see how their money is being spent. The Department is responsible for: supporting local government by giving them the power to act for their community - without interference from central government; helping communities and neighbourhoods to solve their own problems so neighbourhoods are strong, attractive and thriving; working with local enterprise partnerships and enterprise zones to help the private sector grow; making the planning system work more efficiently and effectively; supporting local fire and rescue authorities so that they’re able to respond to emergencies and reduce the number and impact of fires.

The British Library is the national library of the UK and one of the world’s greatest libraries. The Business and Intellectual Property Centre, based at St Pancras in London, opened in March 2006 with the help of London Development Agency funding. Since then, it has welcomed over 350,000 people through the doors and has an excellent track record in supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs from all walks of life to start and grow businesses. The Centre provides free access to an unparalleled resource of business and intellectual property information (over £5 million worth), supplemented by one-to-one advice clinics, practical workshops and networking events, featuring ‘role model’ entrepreneurs.

For more information contact:

The Department for Communities and Local Government Press Office - tel: 0303 444 1201; email:

Sam Gough, Media Relations Officer, Arts Council England - tel: 020 7973 5189 or 07872 416679; email:

Published 3 October 2013