Future libraries initiative

The Future Libraries Initiative is a unique, exciting and pioneering project to transform the library service in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, supporting libraries to play a powerful role at the heart of communities.

This project is led by Cambridgeshire County Council, Vivacity (with Peterborough City Council), and Civic. Civic is a social enterprise that drives social change by bringing together the people, ideas, spaces and resources that make a community thrive.

We are beginning in seven libraries that reflect the diversity of libraries across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough: Peterborough Central, Thorney, Wisbech, Soham, Cambridge Central, Northstowe (future library) and Brampton.

Map showing library locations
Map showing library locations

The libraries in these communities have been carefully selected as representative of the mix of libraries across the UK, and the different roles a library can play in different places. From the library as the anchor to a re-energised high-street, to the library as the cultural centre for a rural community, these seven prototypes can help to develop models for public libraries of the future across the UK.   .

We will be working with these libraries, their staff and their communities for the next two years. This project will provide the opportunity for residents, local businesses, local voluntary sector representatives, regular library users and the broader public to shape the future of their libraries - from what you can do within them to how they look, feel and can better support local people.

Why are we doing it?

Libraries are an important community asset, with unique attributes.

  • They sit at the heart of the community, and have a powerful capacity to bring people together in a safe, trusted and neutral space.
  • They are a unique place in a village, town or city that is there to help individuals and communities to access the resources and information they need to improve their lives
  • They are free and open to everyone - which makes them an amazing place in communities that could do even more.

We believe libraries can play a critical role in supporting communities - to come together, start new initiatives, support each other and help everyone to reach their potential. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, through this project, we will reinvent the public library as a platform for supporting communities across the UK.

Our approach

In the last year, we have been setting the foundations for the project. We are building partnerships with national and local partners - bringing together national broadcasters, world-leading architects, data scientists and designers - to bring exciting design, programming and services to our libraries.

From November 2019, we will be working in close partnership with our seven communities. We will work with a broad mix of residents and stakeholders in each place. Together, we will be designing the experience of a ‘future library’, and all the resources that this needs to provide - both to be used within the library and to be borrowed and taken away - to support local residents, businesses, and organisations to achieve their goals, grow their business and connect with their neighbours. To bring the historic role of libraries - one of self-improvement, wellbeing and community convening - into the 21st Century.


For further information about this project, or to ask any questions, please email Kate Hodkinson at kate.hodkinson@civic.co

Cambridgeshire County Council logo
Civic logo
Vivacity logo