Knowledge Matters blog

Behind the scenes at the British Library

10 October 2023

New LibraryOn release showcasing public libraries

Following our launch to the libraries sector earlier this year, we’re releasing an updated version of the LibraryOn website for everyone to explore.

It’s part of a wider programme of work to enhance the online profile, discoverability and digital capabilities of libraries, funded by Arts Council England. You can read more on the journey so far.

Our new website celebrates public libraries and highlights what they offer – helping more people to discover what their local library offers in person or to browse and access services online. New content showcases how libraries support communities and learning, and provide services such as hosting reading groups, access to digital devices, Wi-Fi and flexible spaces for study, work and enjoyment.

LibraryOn map
LibraryOn functionality, the libarayfinder app.

Over the last six months, we have made rapid progress in developing the first comprehensive easy-to-access listing of public libraries in England, searchable via your postcode. We’re also currently testing the option for browsing library catalogues to offer a smoother experience, particularly for those new to libraries.

Our ambition is to provide a one-stop-shop that inspires and provides practical and easy ways for more people to access free services provided by libraries in a world where digital information and services are now the norm, while also sharing how libraries are providing a lifeline for many people facing challenges from the cost of living to accessing the internet and digital devices.   

The release will be supported by a national campaign to promote the new site to encourage people, particularly those who do not normally use libraries, to visit LibraryOn to find their local library and a preview of what services they can use. 

To deliver this programme, we now have a full new multidisciplinary digital team of 13 staff in post, including experts on content creation, product and technical development, interaction design and grant management. The first of its kind at the British Library, the team embeds a digital-first approach, where the focus is on meeting users’ needs through ongoing testing and development.

LibraryOn has also provided direct support to library services across the country by awarding £1.09m of funding to 27 successful digital projects (reaching 900 individual libraries) from public libraries across England. The projects are now coming together regularly for a Community of Practice, in which they share learning and insights, and plans are also underway for a digital symposium for libraries on 1 March.

Over the next six months, the build of the national digital platform and the local grants will continue to further develop and link with other strategic initiatives. Funded by Arts Council England, the LibraryOn programme also complements wider government strategy for libraries, and contributes to the delivery of ‘Knowledge Matters’, the British Library’s 10-year strategy.