Libraries in Hampshire to Provide New Learning OpportunitiesHampshire County Council has now launched the Universal Learning Offer in its libraries, as part of a nation-wide initiative to bring hundreds of free learning opportunities that are available to library customers.

Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside Cllr Andrew Gibson said: “We welcome this latest Universal Offer for our Libraries which will enhance the thriving learning offer already available across the county. For several years now, we have offered both e-learning and tutored courses in our libraries. We have nearly 5,000 enrolments a year on courses designed to improve individuals’ well-being, better prepare them for employment or develop useful skills. Whether it’s Baby Rhyme-Times to help develop early literacy, interview skills courses, or armchair exercise groups, libraries have something to offer everyone.”

The Universal Learning Offer in public libraries has been developed to enhance existing opportunities by offering children, young people and families more ways to develop their creativity, coding and digital skills. It will provide resources to give families more opportunities to learn together, on a variety of subjects, in a friendly and welcoming environment.

Ciara Eastell, President of the Society of Chief Librarians, said: “Learning has always been at the heart of what libraries deliver and libraries are increasingly being used by a wide range of people to develop life-essential skills. With the growth in self-directed learning, including Massive Open Online Courses the phenomenal success of Open University and others, it is a logical step for libraries to be more central in the learning sector. We plan to widely publicise our unique and free learning resources and we look forward to working with partners to deliver this offer.”

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey said: “I am delighted to launch the new Universal Learning Offer. SCL and its partners have worked incredibly hard to ensure this offer is a success and that it can be shared with everyone at all stages of their learning journey.”

“Libraries are the cornerstones of the communities they serve and this offer will bring a variety of unique learning opportunities into one place. It will create spaces for communities to share ideas and learn together. With the support of the Learning Offer, libraries can build further on great initiatives such as setting up coding clubs, digital training and more.”

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