Collection: Libraries, leisure and parks

This collection showcases LGIU’s resources exploring libraries, leisure and parks. In this collection you will find open content, member briefings and Global Local newsletters exploring best practice in delivering and maintaining community spaces and services, alongside an array of global case studies.

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Local government finance 💰

This edition highlights innovative practice and shares resources to help you make the best of your budget. We go beyond the bottom line with findings from LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre, which is currently exploring local government funding and finance systems from around the world.

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Public libraries serve as versatile community hubs, offering a wide range of services and spaces that cater to diverse needs. From loungerooms and social clubs to study desks and online classrooms, research shows that libraries have some of the highest community satisfaction ratings of all local government services areas. To maintain their valuable role and adapt to evolving technologies, local government financial support is crucial in empowering libraries to provide innovative services both online and in-person.

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Libraries: dedication to public service

Karen Fraser, Executive Manager at Shetland’s Library Services, writes about how, in this time of social crisis, libraries are needed more than ever and staff are rising to the challenge. Read here.

Spotlight on innovative approaches to libraries in Europe: insights for the UK

UK libraries are currently facing a crisis but it doesn’t have to be this way, the pandemic has amplified the need for community spaces and digital learning areas – giving libraries untapped potential if reimagined with the correct care and investment. Read here.

The evolving role of libraries in communities

This briefing will look at why it is essential for local governments to aid the transition to digitalised platforms, and how this can be done through infrastructure and operational activity changes. It also looks at the trends in library service delivery. Read here.

The Role of Public Libraries as Vehicles for Social Inclusion: Lessons from Canada

Libraries provide the perfect environment for social inclusive policies to be tested and implemented. Given the important role played by libraries and Canada’s rich multicultural heritage, this briefing will assess the role of public libraries in this integration effort, and outline how these developments could be applied to Ireland. Read here.

Public libraries as generators of community value and economic activity

Local governments fund the vast bulk of public library operations across Australia. This briefing looks at public libraries as generators of not only significant community value but economic activity in their local economies, through library operating expenditure and spending of library users. Read here.

Public libraries and leisure services: survival and mapping out their role in recovery

Many leisure facilities find themselves in a challenging position financially, but both libraries and leisure services are well placed to support the recovery of local places. We examine the current landscape, how public library and leisure services have adapted to Covid-19, and the strategic issues and challenges ahead. Read here.

Leisure centres

Local sport and leisure centres are essential in fostering healthy, connected, and sustainable communities. By promoting physical activity, reducing health inequalities, and encouraging active transportation, these facilities contribute to overall wellbeing. They also serve as social anchors, strengthening community bonds and revitalizing neighbourhoods. Protecting and investing in accessible sports and leisure services is crucial for enhancing public health and fostering a sense of unity within local communities.

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Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre – good for the environment and good for you

This article, from Brimbank City Council, explores the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre – Australia’s first 100% renewable energy powered, zero greenhouse gas emissions aquatic centre. Examining the environmental, financial and health outcomes of the centre, and sharing lessons learned. Read here.

Community sports facilities – a tale from Glen Eira

Increasingly, councils are tasked with balancing the health and wellbeing benefits of their community sports assets with a tougher financial outlook. In this article, Glen Eira City Council, Australia, shares how they’ve risen to the challenge while redeveloping an old swimming pool. Read here.

The challenges and opportunities ahead for local sports and leisure services

This briefing looks at the challenges and opportunities ahead for local sports and leisure services, considering the latest Active Lives data and research and recommendations by APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) to safeguard services for the future. Read here.

Parramatta’s new Aquatic and Leisure Centre: Future Trends

This briefing looks at the design of the new Parramatta Aquatic and Leisure Centre, and provides a discussion of future trends in public pools. it will be of interest to those in recreation planning, infrastructure and major projects plus community development. Read here.


Parks contribute significantly to local communities’ well-being, through promoting physical activity, enhancing mental well-being, and fostering social connections. They serve as essential green spaces for relaxation, recreation, and community gatherings. Local government support is crucial in maintaining and improving these valuable assets, ensuring their accessibility, inclusivity and continued benefits for the community.

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An Inclusive Playground Policy: Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards Winner

In the eighth instalment exploring winning programmes from the 2018 Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards we’re taking a look at the winner of the Disability Services Provision category,  Monaghan County Council’s inclusive playground policy. Read here.

How a council and community partnership delivered a new heart for Hartham

Discover Hartham Common’s bustling atmosphere, where investment in a new play area now attracts people of all ages to create a destination park. A successful crowdfunding campaign and improved council-community relations led to this vibrant hub, showcasing a new community engagement and funding model for others to emulate. Read here.

Child’s play: what can be learned from Denmark’s innovative playgrounds?

As the country that brought LEGO to the masses, it is perhaps no surprise that Denmark is something of a leader when it comes to innovative places to play. We examine the role that Danish local government have in the creation and maintenance of the nation’s intriguing playgrounds. Read here.

Covid comforts: reflecting on parks and public spaces as safe havens in troubled times

As part of our week of reflection, we’d like to celebrate public spaces and the role they’ve played in our lives during the past year. Find out what parks have meant to LGIU’s Ingrid Koehler and find out how to share your images. Read here.

House of Commons DCLG Committee report on Public Parks

More than half of the UK population uses parks on a regular basis. The CLG select committee’s report into parks asks why do they matter, what challenges do they face and how can a sustainable future be secured? Read here.

The State of Public Parks

There have been significant cuts to local authority budgets for the upkeep of Ireland’s green spaces. The UK faces the same problem, and this briefing will examine the findings of a British report and explore alternative approaches that local authorities there are adopting for the management of parks. Read here.