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What the Learning Revolution means to public libraries

26 April 2010
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I’ve been reading a recent Government White Paper called The Learning Revolution. It was launched on 23 March 2009 and sets out the Government’s strategy for informal learning. There’s an executive summary if you’re just wanting a taster.

Here’s what the government says it’s all about.

Informal learning can help people gain personal satisfaction, development and fulfilment. For the low skilled and with poor experiences of formal education, informal learning can be an important stepping stone to further learning, qualifications and more rewarding work. It can help keep people mentally and physically active and independent into old age. It can also bring people and communities together.

What I thought was interesting about this was the impact this has on public libraries.

An ‘Open Space’ Movement. We want a broad choice of learning options to be available, including traditional classes, activities in museums, libraries and other settings, as well as opportunities to learn online. Self-organised learning is an important part of the mix. Many people are already doing this. We want to empower more people to organise themselves to learn, with opportunities designed by communities for communities. But we know that starting a group can be difficult: it can be particularly hard to find low cost space locally, and people need more expertise and tips on how to build a successful learning group.

We want to sow the seeds of an ‘open space’ movement where organisations throw open their facilities for informal learning at low or no cost. DIUS, DCSF, CLG, DH, and DCMS will work together with partners to open up spaces for informal learning in schools, colleges, libraries, community centres and healthy living centres, whether this learning is provided by the public, voluntary or self-organised sector. We will also develop a toolkit on how to set up, support and maintain a self-organised group.

I’m already starting to see the momentum for these flexible open spaces in some libraries today. This seems to chime well with the modernisation report released a few months ago too.

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