Who we are

The Network is a network of:

  • Local authorities (public libraries, archives and museums) in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • National museums, archives and libraries (including the House of Lords Record Office
  • University Departments 
  • Professional bodies (such as the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals)
  • Heritage organisations (including the National Lottery Heritage Fund)
  • Charities, voluntary sector organisations (including the National Literacy Trust)
  • Individuals committed to tackling social exclusion.


The Network shares information and good practice, including via its monthly Newsletter and regular Ebulletins, and via a number of email lists; responds to Government and other calls for information about the social justice role of the cultural sector; and organises and takes part in courses, seminars and conferences.

The Network carries out specific projects; these have included working as a partner in the original “Welcome To Your Library” project and, more recently, with City of Sanctuary and the Library of Sanctuary Stakeholders Group to create the Libraries of Sanctuary resource pack, and with SWRLS and library services in the South West to develop the “Peninsula of Sanctuary: Libraries” project; working with RNIBShare The VisionLibraries Connected, and CILIP’s Community, Diversity and Equality Group to support the Vision and Print Impaired People’s Promise; supporting CILIP in the development of their LGBTQ+ Network; and, longer ago, working with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to promote the role that libraries play in supporting children and young people in care.

In addition, The Network works with a number of partners, including RNIB and The Reading Agency

Formed following a seminar in February 1999 (as part of the dissemination and publicity for the then Library and Information Commission-funded research project, “Public Library Policy and Social Exclusion”, the report of which was published under the title, Open to all?), The Network was launched nationally at the Public Library Authorities Conference in Torquay in October 1999. The Network now has some 85 organisational members.

The Network is coordinated by John Vincent.

Updated 12 April 2024.