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Learner support in UK public libraries

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Purpose. To convey the initial findings of Biblio.for.mEDA, an EU project exploring lifelong learning provision for adults in public libraries set in the context of a literature review regarding support for learners in public libraries. Design/methodology/approach. A total of 20 public library authorities in England agreed to participate in a survey of the resources, support and staffing to facilitate lifelong learning in public libraries. The data were analysed manually and reported here, including current provision for learners, collaborative working, plans for the future and consideration of the impacts on staff. The findings are reported in the context of other research exploring learning in public libraries and consideration of authority's web sites, annual library plans and position statements. Findings. Depicts current lifelong learning provision in public libraries and the challenges faced by staff in supporting learners. The varying degrees of learner support provided by library services are described including assistance for adults with basic skills needs. Research limitations/implications. The findings are indicative as only 20 public library managers completed the lifelong learning survey in the UK. Practical implications. Provides an extensive review of the literature pertaining to learning in public libraries. Results of the project provide a useful snapshot of current lifelong learning activity and the ways in which services are working to support adults wishing to learn. Originality/value. This paper offers recent research results and analysis of a pressing public library issue for practitioners.
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Keywords: Learning; Public libraries; Skills; United Kingdom

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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