Developing a Children and Young People’s Universal Health Offer

Friday, 26 May, 2017

Developing a Children and Young People’s strand of the Universal Health Offer

A report by The Reading Agency on behalf of ASCEL (the Association of Senior Children’s & Education Librarians) & launched today (26/05/2017).


The Universal Health Offer is a strategy which expresses the public library contribution to the positive health and wellbeing of local communities.  It is delivered by the Society of Chief Librarians, in partnership with The Reading Agency and is funded by Arts Council England as one of the five Universal Offers available in English public libraries.

Research for the report looked at the key priorities of leading health bodies, including Public Health England, NHS England, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal Society of Public Health and included interviews with representatives from health organisations.

The report states that there is clear potential for public libraries to support the health and wellbeing of children and young people in their local communities and recommends areas of focus for public libraries divided by age category, early years (pre-birth/0-4 years), children (5-11 years) and young people (11-18 years).

Sue Ball, national Chair of ASCEL said, “We are delighted with this report as going forward the recommendations will help to shape local public library health offers for children & young people & their families.”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency said, “We’re really excited to be working with ASCEL and SCL on a children and young people’s strand of the Public Library Health Offer.  The report shows there is enormous potential to extend the health work of libraries in this area building on the success of the Reading Well for young people scheme, which is already supporting young people’s wellbeing through expert endorsed reading available in public libraries.”

Julie Spencer MBE, Head of Library and Museum Services, Bolton, said, “On behalf of the Society of Chief Librarians I would like to endorse the importance of this report.  It identifies priorities which will help to extend and shape a coordinated approach to delivering children’s and young people’s health and well-being activity across public libraries. These recommendations will give a welcome extra dimension to the Public Library Health Offer reflecting current health policy and commissioning concerns and underlining the benefits our work brings to local communities.”


To support library staff in conversations with stakeholders and partners about how libraries support the health and wellbeing of children and young people ASCEL have developed these Ten Key Messages


Health & Wellbeing  - Examples of good practice, June 2017 Spreadsheet compiled by Emma Fisher  of South Gloucestershire Libraries for ASCEL


Additional information:

The Society of Chief Librarians leads and manages public libraries in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.  It is made up of the head of every library authority and advocates for continuous improvement of the public library service on behalf of local people.  

ASCEL is the national network of senior managers in Children’s Public and Schools Library Services. Their aim is to lead excellence in library services for children and young people and schools so that every child and young person visiting a public library should be inspired by an exciting environment which makes reading for pleasure irresistible and every school has access to a high quality school library service. 

The Reading Agency is the leading charity inspiring people of all ages and all backgrounds to read for pleasure and empowerment.  Working with partners, their aim is to make reading accessible to everyone.  The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council. 

The Universal Offers for Public Libraries were launched in 2013 by The Society of Chief Librarians.  They cover five key areas which library customers and partners see as essential to a 21st century library service.  They are Health, Reading, Digital, Information and Learning.