The Partners for Change project: involving socially excluded young people in shaping public library services
The Partners for Change project aimed to encourage disadvantaged young people aged 11-19 in the South West region of England to get involved in making decisions about public libraries. The project was developed using an action research approach and took place between May 2005 and June 2007. An action research approach was used so that learning from the project could inform the development of national tools for public library services in England as part of a programme known as Fulfilling their Potential. The project found that disadvantaged young people are happy to offer ideas to improve their local public library if they have had the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with library staff. However, many young people feel that they are often asked for their views on public services but are seldom told what happens as a result. The project found that if public libraries are to be successful in involving young people in decision-making, library staff need training and sufficient resources to work in-depth with relatively small groups of young people. Project lessons have been incorporated into the Fulfilling their Potential programme so that public libraries across England can develop effective strategies for engaging disadvantaged young people.