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Library projects announced to promote reading

Children and young people will be offered automatic library membership through a range of new projects run by the Arts Council England.

The council has announced 22 projects which will share £55,000 to test automatic membership, to encourage the use of local libraries and reading for pleasure. The scheme is supported by the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Projects include libraries working with birth registration services, nurseries and schools promoting membership to local families and leisure services offering combined library and leisure cards.

Nicky Morgan, director of libraries at Arts Council England, said: “These projects will test out genuinely exciting, new ways of encouraging children, young people and families to join and access their local libraries.

“Libraries are the very heart of their communities and are centres of knowledge that are available for everyone to use. Through these projects, we hope that children and young people will be encouraged to use their libraries now and in the future, and will develop a real love for learning and a natural curiosity about the world around them.”

Elizabeth Truss, education minister, said: “It is crucial that every child develops a love of reading as early as possible in their life. These library card pilots will encourage a whole new generation of young readers to visit their local library to immerse themselves in the stories and adventures they may not have access to at home.”

And culture minister Ed Vaizey said: “One of the greatest gifts we can bestow on our children is a love of books and reading. Joining a library at a young age is a fantastic route into a world of literature, entertainment and exploration and I very much look forward to seeing the results of these innovative library card pilots.”

The projects are located in: Barking and Dagenham; Barnet; Brent; Brighton & Hove; Bristol; Havering; Lewisham; Medway; Norfolk Library and Information Service and School Library Service; Northamptonshire; Plymouth; Portsmouth; Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead; Sandwell; South Gloucestershire; Staffordshire; Surrey; Thurrock; Waltham Forest; Wiltshire; Worcestershire; York.

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