Nottinghamshire County Council celebrates six years of success with Inspire: Culture Learning and Libraries

Published 18th May 2022

Nottinghamshire County Council are celebrating six years of successfully delivering cultural, learning and library services with Inspire across Nottinghamshire.

Set up in April 2016, Inspire is an independent organisation with charitable aims and status. As well as overseeing the day-to-day management of 60 libraries, Inspire provide a range of services  including Nottinghamshire Archives, Inspire Youth Arts, Education Library Service, Nottinghamshire Music Hub, Inspire Adult Learning and Inspire College.

In the last two years, Inspire have played a key role in supporting Nottinghamshire residents,  learners and schools throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining a range of services whilst adhering to the changing guidance and restrictions.

Inspire has also supported local recovery, helping communities to reconnect, supporting business growth and routes into employment, as well as providing specialised support for children and young people through the Inspire Learning College and Inspire Youth Arts.

Inspire’s award-winning adult and family learning courses offer a mixture of online, face to face and blended courses, supporting  learners to achieve their goals.

“What an incredible six years it has been. Libraries are so vital to our communities and running our libraries with Inspire has provided the stability and resilience that the service needs. This success can be seen in the way we have kept every single one of our libraries open, even when facing the challenges of the pandemic.

“At a time when many local authorities were closing libraries, we looked to provide them in a different way with a focus on how we could keep them going. We recognised just how important these services are. Libraries are often at the heart of local communities, which is why we have made it a priority to grow the offer and increase what’s available to people.

I am always delighted to re-visit the successes we have seen with Inspire, especially as we mark this milestone. Nottinghamshire is well on its way to having the very best library service in the country.”

Councillor Cottee, Cabinet Member for Communities

Over the last six years, Inspire have delivered a wide range of library services for children such as Bookstart, rattle rhyme roll sessions, children’s theatre and summer reading programmes. Over 8,000 children participated in the Summer Reading Challenge 2021. The Summer Reading Challenge will again run in 2022.

Creative programmes such as the production of a digital light installation at St Mary’s Church for Light Night 2022 received 4,500 visitors, while The Able Orchestra project brings together talented disabled and non-disabled young people, and professional musicians to create and perform music.

A new membership volunteering and engagement programme, Community Makers, launched in September 2021. The programme facilities a greater use of local skills and support to help communities to re-connect and recover.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved at Inspire over the last 6 years, providing essential access to reading, learning and culture even during a global crisis when we switched many of our activities to online delivery. Looking forward, I am excited about the role Inspire can play in supporting Nottinghamshire communities and the economy – providing spaces, new skills, business information and IT access, resources and many cultural and learning opportunities as possible.

We also have a key focus on well-being activity, reaching those who are isolated at home and promoting libraries as places of welcome and connection. Following the lifting of restrictions in July 2021 regular meetings and activities have returned, and we are offering a weekly opportunity for people to meet, chat and connect.”

Peter Gaw, Chief Executive Inspire

Additional funding has been approved by Nottinghamshire County Council to continue to develop the library service. There will be upgrade the public computer and network facilities completed during 2022. During 2022/23 the council will undertake refurbishment of 6 small libraries part funded through a grant award from the DCMS Libraries Investment Fund. This will focus on improving establishing these small libraries as village hubs. Libraries included are Bircotes, Blidworth, Bilsthorpe, Burton Joyce, Langold and Woodthorpe. Through towns fund investment at Stapleford, Sutton and Kirkby Libraries will be made to develop additional learning facilities.

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