Another chance to secure funding to improve your local library: Library Innovations Fund-2

18 May 2021

Another chance to secure funding to improve your local library

Bristol Libraries has launched a second round of funding to help community groups develop innovative ideas for their local library.

The Library Innovation Fund was launched in October 2019, offering just over £100,000 to be split between the city’s 27 libraries.

Up to £3,000 was made available for each library, and where the funding was not fully allocated, groups connected to each library now have another opportunity to apply for funding.

There is around £22,000 remaining that was not allocated and is now being offered to 11 libraries across the city.

The fund will enable communities to lead on putting the ideas they have about their local library and the library building into action.

The money can be used to fund one off small scale activities, or to match fund for a larger project. Bids will be accepted from community groups, local businesses and individuals.

Projects that were awarded funds in the first round were a mix of creative ideas and community activities including; virtual reality sessions, buying equipment to hold film and games nights, creative writing workshops, well-being boxes, and an IT focused English language (ESOL) course for parents, with a free crèche.

Head of libraries, Kate Murray said: “The impact of COVID-19 has shown more than ever the importance libraries have in communities across the city.

“The Innovation Fund offers the opportunity for residents and local groups to engage in innovative and creative ways to try out ideas and activities that will help build the library service of the future. We have been delighted with some of the projects that have been set up as a result of the first round of funding, and want to make sure all libraries can benefit from this investment. We are also looking forward to restarting projects that were paused.

“We hope that this funding will allow people to feel more connected to their local library, and help groups create something that will benefit the whole community. We would encourage anyone with an idea to get involved and help to shape the local library service for their community.”

Library Innovation Fund - Horfield library fence

There are now Friends’ Groups at 19 of our libraries, with money from the Innovation Fund helping to set up further groups during the last year.

Where there are no existing Friends’ Groups, the library service is actively working with local residents to support them to bring ideas forward.

Each Friends Group is able to apply for £1,000 from the fund. So far nine groups have been awarded more than £5,000.

Applications for the main Innovation Fund are now open and will run until the end of June. Projects and ideas will be assessed by a cross council panel with final approval at the Library Ideas Project Board. All allocated funds will need to be spent by the end of March 2022.

To find out more go to

Case Study:

Imayla CIC were awarded a grant from the Bristol Libraries Innovation fund to deliver a series of workshops in St Pauls library called “Book Jam”. The aim of the project was to work with young people from the St Pauls area to encourage a wider engagement with reading and develop stronger and more expansive relationships with the library. As a result of lockdown this had to be postponed.

However, the project team rethought their proposal to enable them to deliver the programme outside of the library in places such as the local park. These sessions started in early August 2020 and ran until December and were attended by children aged six to 13. Throughout the project the team maintained a focus on reading and creative learning. As the project progressed, a Library Development Officer was able to bring a small selection of books for the children to borrow and also encourage those who weren’t members to sign up to the library.

You can listen to a podcast of the Book Jam project