Library Closures - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

3  A library service for the 21st century

61.  While the core offering of a library service is access to books and other sources of information, especially for those who have little or no access at home to printed or electronically-provided information,[109] our witnesses were unanimous that much greater value came from linking the resources and facilities available in libraries into wider programmes reaching out into the local community. Many libraries already do this in a variety of ways, but the need for local authorities to prune budgets has increased the urgency of reviewing the library service in the light not only of its own value but also of the value it can add to other services.[110]

62.  One area of symbiosis is with education, not least because many school libraries also face considerable funding reductions at present. The local public library provides not only access to information, but also a safe space for study, with the additional advantage of access to the knowledge of trained library staff.[111] In some cases, local authorities have found that locating a public library within a school or college benefits both the educational establishment and the local community; but we were told that this did not work everywhere.[112] The Government has recently taken up an idea put forward by the children's author, Michael Rosen, of automatic library membership for all primary school pupils, to encourage them to use their local library.[113]

63.  Other examples of shared facilities are less obvious. Our witnesses referred to combining a library with the registry of births, marriages and deaths (in Sevenoaks) or with a tourist information office (in north-east England).[114] Those who hosted our visit to the library in Pimlico emphasised the potential for libraries to support the health service, both in the provision of written information and as a place where medical staff could meet the local community in a relaxed environment in order to promote understanding of public health issues.[115] One of the witnesses to our predecessor Committee drew attention to other government departments whose work was supported by the library service: in providing information and practical support to those seeking work (the Department of Work and Pensions); in helping small businesses (the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills); and in addressing those disaffected from schooling and thus helping to tackle anti-social behaviour and truancy (the Home Office).[116] Annie Mauger of CILIP and the Minister also wished to persuade departments other than the DCMS of the contribution libraries could make to the outcomes which they wanted to achieve.[117]

64.  Leicestershire has taken the approach of viewing libraries as part of its heritage and arts services, enabling the council to concentrate on medium-term aims for this sector rather than just immediate cuts (for example, it has decided not to close any libraries or museums but to look at redesigning, joining up or, in some cases, reducing services). This approach has enabled significant savings, mainly through staff reorganisation, while retaining the expertise of librarians and curators; and it has also had some collateral benefits in terms of applying the commercial expertise developed in the museums and arts service to exploiting the potential of library facilities.[118]

65.  There has also been a renewed emphasis on the role of the library building as a meeting place for the community.[119] In some places, this has been achieved partly by — for example—locating a privately-run cafe in the library, which has contributed to a rise in the number of visitors to the library.[120] Such partnerships may provide some additional income, though experience is that this has not been substantial: it is the increase in usage that is more significant for the library service. Bradford Metropolitan District Council has adopted a different approach. Under its 'Library Links' initiative, it has located 'library service points' in shops.[121]

66.  Such relationships with the private sector are not universally welcome, however. We ? Libraries, a Hertfordshire-based library campaign group, expressed concern that co-location with private retailers would turn libraries from neutral venues open and welcoming to all into something more commercial and less inclusive.[122]

Co-operation and mergers

67.  One area on which our witnesses agreed was that there were considerable potential benefits to be gained from procurement partnerships for purchasing books, and possibly in other areas where a 'national' approach might reap substantial savings and efficiencies.[123] Miranda McKearney of The Reading Agency mentioned as examples a national digital portal for libraries, and a suite of planned services to be available 24 hours a day.[124] Other witnesses argued that it would be impossible for libraries to engage with e-books except on a national basis: publishers were not very interested in the concept of lending e-books as licensing difficulties could not be adequately addressed at a local level and significant demand for a lending service from readers was yet to emerge.[125] Miranda McKearney also suggested there was scope for engagement with potential partners, such as the BBC in relation to its digital resources, but said that this was being hindered by "a major gap in the ability of libraries to act and plan nationally".[126]

68.  A number of our witnesses were cautious about the idea of forming regional hubs: there was resistance to the idea of 'mega-libraries' or 'destination libraries' given the difficulty of travelling long distances to them, though some regional hubs (such as in Newcastle) were acknowledged to work well.[127] Nevertheless, it was acknowledged that there was scope for far more partnership between local authorities, and—in the view of Sue Charteris—such co-operation was vital because the scale of the cuts meant that otherwise there would not be enough professional expertise available to run the library service.[128]

69.  Unfortunately, our witnesses reported that, with certain exceptions (one of which we discuss in more detail below), co-operation between authorities had recently become more, not less, difficult: one witness said that the 'good old days' where one authority would specialise in books on fine arts and another on 20th century history had gone as many of "those co-operative systems" had broken down.[129] Another witness explained that the emphasis on local finances in the last 18 months, and the resulting focus on local library services, had, perversely, made such co-operation 'politically' difficult.[130] While the Library Campaign acknowledged that collaborations could be an effective way for libraries to improve efficiency, it suggested:

Shared services may be one way of making more efficiencies but only if the authority—and its users—has/ have the same amount of guarantee that services will be delivered on time, to budget and where required. There is no point in a shared service which simply means shipping books from one huge central depot to the branch if there is no other saving.[131]

70.  South Gloucestershire Council told us about the Libraries West Consortium (consisting of itself, North Somerset, Bath and NE Somerset, Bristol and Somerset library authorities) which had managed to make significant savings from shared procurement of ICT and stock, from shared services (IT support, bibliographic services, information provision via an Enquiry Centre, marketing and the development of new services), and shared training and development.[132] While we were told of other examples of successful cross-boundary co-operation in Warwickshire, Cornwall and Devon, the north-west and potentially Leicestershire,[133] the most commonly cited example was that of the 'tri-borough' project, encompassing the London boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea.

71.  This initiative covers a considerably wider set of services than those relating to public libraries or even the arts in general: it is a project to save money by, wherever possible, combining services in order to rationalise and reduce management structures and simultaneously improve front-line services. The Local Government Association described it as "an integrated libraries and archives service managed as a single service across the three boroughs, with local branding and delivery in line with local community needs". Launched in April 2012, the tri-borough initiative for libraries was intended to produce savings of more than £1 million a year as a result of the single back office/management structure and from introducing best practice in the deployment of operational staff.[134] Elizabeth Campbell of the Local Government Association and also a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, described the thinking behind the approach as follows:

[We] saw cuts were coming, and thought, "How do we not only safeguard what we have, how do we keep our 21 libraries across three boroughs open, maintain the number of hours, but at the end of the day produce a better library service for our customers?" I suppose that is what has galvanised all our thinking; how are we going to be more resourceful, more ready to modernise at the end of it, at the same time as taking £1 million out of the service? We feel that we will have done that. We will have taken £1 million out over the next couple of years, but we will have one library card serving all our customers. We will have a million books that they can take out. We hope our footfall of 5 million over the three boroughs, coming forward, will mean that we are probably more open to sponsorship or other deals. We may say that this is the first step. We will merge first, make our library service efficient and then think, "What now? What other things can we do?[135]

She added that the library service had always been part of the plan to merge services as the management and back office structures in the three boroughs more or less mirrored one another, so it was easy to rationalise them.[136] When we asked whether it would be simple to replicate this across England and Wales, she replied that it would be difficult to achieve where the participating authorities were not of the same political persuasion as a lot had to be taken on trust, particularly as each authority would make gains in some areas and losses in others.[137]

72.  There have been suggestions that the tri-borough experiment with libraries should be repeated on a larger scale, for example by combining the library services of all 33 London boroughs into a single unit. It was estimated that, by removing administrative duplication, this might save up to £80 million a year.[138] While making administrative savings on this scale is attractive, such centralisation runs the risk of losing the detailed knowledge of local needs which has, for example, allowed both Westminster and Tower Hamlets to develop their library services in ways which clearly reflect the needs of their local resident and working population.

73.  While several of our witnesses expressed considerable enthusiasm for the tri-borough project,[139] Sue Charteris noted that many council leaders believed that this approach would work only in urban areas. She accepted that it would be much easier where there were clear economies of scale, but she was still of the view that there were significant possible benefits to be had from partnerships even among counties. The vital ingredients, she thought, were real professional expertise and political leadership.[140]

74.  Some very good models of co-operation between library authorities already exist. Local authorities must ensure that they maintain and improve co-operation, both across boundaries and nationally, as this will free money for front-line library services. It is short-sighted to reduce co-operation at this time of financial constraint.

Community libraries and the role of volunteers

75.  A far more controversial response to funding cuts has been to hand over library facilities to volunteers, with the intention that they should be run as 'community libraries'. We were told that this phrase covered a wide variety of models and very different levels of consultation, engagement and support from the relevant local authorities. At one end of the spectrum, there is the example where a library has been handed over completely to the community, without any professional support and even (in some cases) with the removal of vital IT equipment such as computers, so that it is impossible to join the library or request a book at that place.[141] At the other end of the spectrum, the facilities remain intact, there is continued access to the advice and support of professional librarians, but the professional staff are "not necessarily the people who open and close the building every day".[142] While acknowledging that libraries had often made good use of voluntary staff in the past to enhance the service, our witnesses were generally of the view that, unless there was access to the advice and support of trained staff, facilities could not be considered to be part of the public library network.[143]

76.  Sue Charteris told us about the development of the community libraries programme under the auspices of the Big Lottery Fund. She said that the key determinants of the success of that project were, first, it involved an injection of capital; and secondly, it required slow and painstaking work with the local community to design, deliver and develop the service. She cited as a particularly successful example a healthy living centre on a housing estate in Weston-super-Mare, where the library—run by a social enterprise— shared its facilities with a church, a social services area office and a community cafe.[144] She told us:

Councils need to decide, when they are considering cuts, what they mean. Do they mean that they have done a needs analysis and do not think that that library is needed at all? Or do they mean that, actually, they do still think they need that network of provision? It might be in those places that need it most and use it least that a different community partnering model might be more effective, but it will not work if it is a case of "Here are the keys of the building, get on with it, it is up to you whether you use it or not." The council needs to be part of it.[145]

77.  The Isle of Wight Council has been the subject of particular criticism for its decision to reduce the number of public libraries on the island from eleven to six. The other five have been handed over to local volunteers and Councillor David Pugh, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, made it clear that those five libraries were no longer part of the statutory service.[146] We examined exactly what this meant in practice for the volunteers. We were told that none of the community libraries was accountable to the local authority; each library had responsibility for recruiting its own voluntary staff and, though the council asked volunteers to agree to comply with certain basic legal requirements, such as data protection, it was for each community to develop its library service as it saw fit. There were no common service standards.[147] The buildings had been made available on a peppercorn rent, but other costs—in particular utility costs—were the responsibility of the relevant library, albeit that some transitional funding from the Isle of Wight Council was still in place and the local rural community council had some involvement with two of the libraries. This had resulted in some parish councils increasing their precepts, at least in part to support their local community library. Some communities wanted to move their library to a different building to co-locate with other services: Councillor Pugh said that the local authority would support them "to whatever extent they need within reason."[148] The community libraries did not have any employees of the local authority working there, with the exception of one part-time person, paid for by a town council, who was the library volunteer co-ordinator. (Councillor Pugh argued that volunteers had not replaced professional librarians as the previous staff, though competent, were not professional librarians.)[149] The five libraries continued to have access to the council's library IT service, including the full database of books, and Councillor Pugh expected that stock would be rotated and new books would be able to be ordered via the Isle of Wight's central stock controls, as previously.[150]

78.  The Minister made it clear that an authority that had handed over a large proportion of its library facilities to volunteers would not escape his Department's scrutiny: "we would still want to see a comprehensive and efficient local-authority-run service in the local [area]".[151]

79.  Volunteers have long been a valuable and valued part of the library service, and there are places where their work may help the local community to retain at least some ability to borrow books and access reference material. It will require considerable dedication by the volunteers and, as the Isle of Wight example shows, the financial costs may be high, even if buildings are made available at a nominal rent. It is not clear how sustainable some of these community libraries may be, nor what impact the change will have on some of the outreach work conducted by libraries, particularly in relation to children and reading. It is clear, however, that community libraries will fail unless given at least some support by the local authority in terms of access to stock (including new stock), retaining computer equipment and IT support, and access to the advice and assistance of professional library staff. It would be very helpful to councils to receive some guidance from the DCMS on best practice in the provision of support. Councils which have transferred the running of libraries to community volunteers must above all, however, continue to give them the necessary support, otherwise they may wither on the vine and therefore be viewed as closures by stealth.

80.  A different model of devolved library provision is that presented by the Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), currently being piloted in Suffolk. In December 2011, Suffolk County Council decided to adopt an IPS model for its libraries which involved setting up an independent not-for-profit organisation with a Chair. In its written submission, Suffolk IPS Ltd stated that the IPS was still in a transitional phase, becoming fully operational in June 2012. It went on to explain:

The County Council retains its statutory responsibilities for providing comprehensive and efficient library services. It will fund the IPS through a contract and service agreement; monitor progress and ensure compliance.

All libraries will remain open, and public opening hours will not be reduced. Community management groups are planning to develop the scope and public offer of the new service locally.[152]

81.  The Minister told us that the Government had no preference about who ran the statutory library service—whether it was run in-house or under contract with a not-for-profit, mutual or private company—provided it could meet the 'comprehensive and efficient' criteria.[153]

82.  We will be very interested to follow the development of the Industrial and Provident Society model for library provision in Suffolk. Again, it relies heavily on the goodwill of volunteers, but it has the advantage to the local population that the county council retains overall responsibility for the service. There may be many other potential models for providing library services than those discussed in this report. We urge the DCMS, Arts Council and Local Government Association to evaluate the effectiveness of the different models being developed round the country and to produce an analysis for councils by the end of 2013.

83.  We very much welcome the commitment given to us by the Minister to produce a report by the end of 2014 on the cumulative effect on library services of the reduction in local-authority provision and the growth of alternatives such as community libraries.[154] We look forward to receiving that report. Enthusiasm over the scope for volunteer involvement, and for new models of provision, is fine, but—given the importance of library services—a systematic look at the impact of funding cuts and organisation changes is needed to assess the durability of new approaches over time.

Responsibility for ensuring a comprehensive and efficient service

84.  Much of the frustration of those campaigning for the retention of library services has arisen from a perception that the Secretary of State has been refusing to exercise his statutory responsibility for ensuring the provision of a comprehensive and efficient library service.[155] Appeals to the Secretary of State to initiate Wirral-style inquiries into the decisions of individual authorities have failed: judicial reviews of council decisions have resulted in courts limiting themselves to considerations of process, while referring back the definition of 'comprehensive and efficient' to the Minister.[156] Moreover, with the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, and the transfer (as recently as 1 October 2011) of some of its responsibilities to the Arts Council, there is no longer a body with specific responsibility for maintaining standards within the library service at national level.


85.  Section 1(1) of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 states:

From the commencement of this Act it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales, and to secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities by or under this Act.

There is therefore a clear duty on the Secretary of State to "superintend, and promote the improvement" of the library service provided by individual local authorities. It seems reasonable to conclude it is his responsibility to provide at least a framework for judging whether a service is 'comprehensive and efficient'.

86.  Under section 10 of the same Act, as subsequently amended, the "default powers" of the Secretary of State are outlined as follows:.E


(a)a complaint is made to the Secretary of State that any library authority has failed to carry out duties relating to the public library service imposed on it by or under this Act; or

(b)the Secretary of State is of opinion that an investigation should be made as to whether any such failure by a library authority has occurred,

and, after causing a local enquiry to be held into the matter, the Secretary of State is satisfied that there has been such a failure by the library authority, he may make an order declaring it to be in default and directing it for the purpose of removing the default to carry out such of its duties, in such manner and within such time, as may be specified in the order.

(2)If a library authority with respect to which an order has been made under the preceding subsection fails to comply with any requirement of the order, the Secretary of State, instead of enforcing the order by mandamus or otherwise,—


(b)[relates to joint boards, which may be dissolved back into their constituent parts and those parts reconstituted as separate library authorities], or

(c)in any other case, may make an order providing that the functions of the authority relating to the public library service shall be transferred to the Secretary of State.

(3)A power conferred by subsection (2) above to make an order shall be exercisable by statutory instrument, which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(4)Where functions of a library authority have been transferred to the Secretary of State under subsection (2) above he may at any time by order transfer those functions back to the authority, and the order may contain such supplemental provisions as may appear to him to be expedient for that purpose.

It is these powers that the Secretary of State has recently declined to use in respect of the half dozen or so cases referred for judicial review, on the grounds that they were not serious enough for him to intervene.[157]

87.  We suggested to some of our witnesses that there were good pragmatic reasons for the Secretary of State to refrain from intervening at present: the sheer scale of the budget cuts meant that so many closures and other changes were being proposed that he would simply be overwhelmed if he intervened. The response was that, nevertheless, he had a statutory duty to fulfil.[158] Andrew Coburn summed up the reason why campaigners thought it appropriate for there to be responsibility at a national level for a service which, they agreed, had to reflect local needs and be delivered locally:

it is a de facto national service. I can go into my local library and discover that the nearest copy of the book I want to borrow is in Keswick; I live in Essex, but I can get that book, perhaps not the next day, but very quickly. There are all sorts of other aspects that make it a national service, and, therefore, there is a place for some national governance, for want of a better word.[159]

88.  The local authorities, on the other hand, favoured the current light-touch approach to supervision and, if anything, would have preferred the Secretary of State to have no powers to intervene.[160] They placed heavy emphasis on learning from one another, and particularly on the role of the Local Government Association in disseminating information, conducting peer reviews, and generally promoting different models of good practice.[161]

89.  Alan Davey of the Arts Council explained why, in his opinion, it was wrong to rely solely on the process of judicial review to decide whether local authorities were fulfilling their statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service: "the judicial cases all focus on process and no one is talking about policy, about innovation, about where libraries could be going, about why libraries do matter to people, how they could matter to people more."[162] Sue Charteris, who had similar concerns, considered that this pointed to a need to amend the 1964 Act, not so much to remove responsibility from the Secretary of State, but to make him more 'proactive': to give him a clear role in relation to areas that needed to be addressed at national level (for example, negotiating digital access and using scale to achieve savings in the purchase of goods and services) and to make his supervisory role more akin to that of the relevant Secretaries of State in respect of the health and education services.[163] To some extent, Ministers are already assuming a more active role in relation to national objectives: the DCMS is now working with other government departments to explore the possibility of providing Wi-Fi in every library in England by 2015.[164]

90.  The Minister said that he intended to hold discussions with the Chartered Institute of Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) about the re-structuring of the statistics they collected from local authorities to 'flag up' possible areas of concern relating to expenditure on libraries. He added that he wanted to develop a 'proper partnership' between CIPFA and the Arts Council.[165] Subsequently, he announced that CIPFA had developed 'comparative profile reports' to enable fair comparisons to be made between comparable local authorities in the way in which they delivered library services. The Minister denied this was a reimposition of inflexible library standards; it was intended to enable the DCMS to ask questions if, for example, there were wide divergences in the apparent efficiency of expenditure on books. To this end, the DCMS was commissioning reports on all library authorities in England, to be completed in December 2012 and to be made available to the public as well as councillors, MPs and other interested parties.[166]

91.  The Minister considered that the role given to the Secretary of State by the 1964 Act was still of value. He said:

There is an interesting debate going on, if you like, a perspective certainly from local authorities that would like the Act repealed. They do not want a superintending duty. They do not want it to be a statutory duty. They want complete freedom, so they regard it as frustrating that they have to account to us. I would say it is good that they are frustrated that they have to account to us because it shows that we are taking an active interest in what they are doing. I do not think that superintendent function is redundant. I am not sure the exact question was asked in the transcript, but I think it is in the mind of every local authority when it looks at its library service: will we breach our duty? What will happen if we go too far? Will we be called in by the Department?[167]

92.  It would be possible to remove the Secretary of State altogether from any role in respect of libraries by repealing sections 1 and 10 of the 1964 Act, and making any consequential amendments; but, though it has the benefits of simplicity and clarity, this is not entirely satisfactory. The more libraries develop their role in order to deliver national goals, whether in education or in promising new areas such as public health, the more they match the model of a 'national service delivered locally' rather than just a 'local service'. Consequently, there is an argument for retaining an element of national oversight. The current situation, however, where the Secretary of State has considerable reserve powers but is unwilling at present to use them, satisfies no one. One of the key problems for those trying to conduct judicial reviews of local decisions is that, since the revocation of the library standards, there is no national definition of 'comprehensive and efficient'. We have already recommended that the Secretary of State issue guidance on what, in broad terms, constitutes a good library service. We note that the Arts Council's libraries team is based in all the regions and is intended to advise on best practice. This team could also be used to feed information on potential problem areas back to the DCMS. This system of advice backed up by intelligence should both help councils to adapt their approach to reductions in the library service—which may serve to reduce the recourse to judicial review—and enable the Secretary of State to give a swifter and clearer response to any complaints or judicial referrals. Section 10 of the 1964 Act then really would be a final resort.

93.  We are attracted by Sue Charteris's outline of a modern approach to the Secretary of State's supervisory duty, with its emphasis on developing the service, promoting best practice and supporting the service through intervention at a national level in areas where there are potential efficiencies of scale. This leaves responsibility for both determining and meeting local needs to the local authorities, where it should rest. It also—as we discuss below—fits the stance taken by the Arts Council in respect of its advisory role for libraries. We do not think that adopting this approach would require any amendment to legislation, as the Secretary of State already has the duty of 'promoting the improvement' of library services.

94.  We note one suggestion of a small but significant change to the current procedures and practices relating to the Secretary of State's powers to call a local inquiry into the actions of a library authority. Sue Charteris argued forcefully that the Public Libraries (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 1992 were virtually unworkable and so adversarial that they hindered, rather than helped, to solve the underlying problem. She believed that they should be changed.[168] We concur.

95.  We briefly explored whether it made sense for the DCMS to continue with responsibility for libraries, given the DCMS gives no direct funding for libraries but instead national funding comes from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Our witnesses were divided on this question, but were generally of the view that the identity of the parent department mattered less than the political commitment to the service.[169]


96.  When we heard from its Chief Executive in February, the Arts Council had only recently taken over some of the role and responsibilities of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The Arts Council saw its role in relation to libraries as two-fold: it had to provide the Secretary of State with information (such as on the extent of closures), and it had to assist with the Secretary of State's duty to promote the improvement of library services, which it saw mainly in terms of spreading good practice. Formally, it took over from its predecessor responsibility for the Future Libraries programme. The Arts Council did not, however, have the 'semi-supervisory' role of the body it replaced, a sort of devolution of the Secretary of State's statutory duty to superintend the service. This duty was anyway—in the view of the Chief Executive—"not terribly well-defined" and he argued it properly and firmly rested with the DCMS itself.[170]

97.  Moreover, as the Chief Executive admitted, the amount of money allocated to libraries within the Arts Council's budget, was "tiny": £230,000 or about £76 per library.[171] This fund, which is part of the Libraries Development Initiative launched in November 2011, is intended to fund 13 projects to "test new approaches to library service delivery."[172] The Chief Executive denied that libraries were a low priority for his organisation, arguing that, rather than regarding them as a simple add-on to museums, the Arts Council viewed the role of libraries as popular and trusted local institutions with a strong role to play in encouraging people throughout the country to engage more with culture.[173] He also said that an area he wished to develop was increasing access by libraries to lottery funds: many library services had been unaware that they were eligible to apply for these, and he thought the Arts Council could help improve both application and success rates for libraries.[174] After we had finished taking oral evidence, on 28 June, the Minister announced that the Arts Council was allocating £6 million from its Grants for the Arts programme for library authorities to work with arts and cultural organisations on projects to promote art and cultural activities.[175] Applications for this funding opened on 27 September 2012 and the programme is due to finish in March 2015.

98.  The Minister acknowledged that the abolition of the Museums, Archives and Libraries Council had caused disquiet, especially as the Arts Council was in receipt of a smaller grant-in-aid than its predecessor. He noted that the MLA had already reduced its staff by half and had closed its regional offices by 2010; he argued, moreover, that it did not have a separate cadre of library staff. He stated that the Arts Council was spending more on library development projects and its consultation programme than the MLA had.[176] He hoped that the Arts Council would fulfil the function of a "libraries development agency", a resource for collecting and disseminating best practice and for providing support where needed, rather than an Ofsted-style inspectorate.[177]

99.  Our other witnesses seemed largely satisfied with the part played by the Arts Council so far, with both librarians and local authorities expressing approval of its commitment to the spread of best practice, and with CILIP and Sue Charteris encouraging it to work closely with the Local Government Association and professional bodies to develop advice and support.[178]

100.  We have no doubt that the Arts Council will fulfil its duties in respect of libraries efficiently and with enthusiasm. Its decision immediately to start a major consultation on how libraries should look in the future bodes well. However, rightly or wrongly, the demise of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council—and the transfer of libraries to a much larger body with a more circumscribed responsibility for the service and a very low direct budget allocation for it—contributes to an impression that the library service in general is being afforded a lower priority than in the past. In the current climate, it is inevitable that library services will be asked to bear their share of local authority cuts and in some areas be rationalised, even though others have committed to keeping all libraries open. We believe, however, that all those involved in providing this service to the public—local authorities, Arts Council and the Secretary of State—need to work harder to demonstrate that it is still much-valued and has a promising future.

109   Qq 12 and 39 Back

110   Qq 124-127 Back

111   Qq4, 8and 12 Back

112   Qq 96 (Annie Mauger and Alan Davey) and136 [Elizabeth Campbell] Back

113   Minister's speech to The Future of Library Services conference, 28 June 2012 Back

114   Qq 62 and 38 Back

115   Q 2 (Miranda McKearney), Ev w3, para 7, Ev w34, paras 2.1-2.8 Back

116   Public Libraries, paragraph 58 Back

117   Qq 103 and 188 Back

118   Qq 124, 126 and 137 Back

119   Qq 2, 43 and 132; see also the Southend example of shared buildings cited in Q 96 (Alan Davey)  Back

120   Q 53, relating to Hillingdon. We also saw an example during our visit to the library in Pimlico in London Back

121   Ev 78 (LGA) Back

122   Ev w42 Back

123   Qq 38 (Sue Charteris) and 84 (Annie Mauger) Back

124   Q 5 Back

125   Qq 40 and 41 (Sue Charteris) and 4 (Andrew Coburn) Back

126   Q 5 Back

127   Qq 19-21 Back

128   Q 37  Back

129   Q 20 (Andrew Coburn) Back

130   Qq 20 and 21 (Miranda McKearney) Back

131   Ev 64 Back

132   Ev w94 Back

133   Qq 20and 133 and Ev w31 Back

134   Ev 78 Back

135   Q 128 Back

136   Q 130 Back

137   Q 132 Back

138   'Give Mayor control of all London libraries', Evening Standard; 23 February 2012 The article was quoting the former head of the Waterstone's book chain, Tim Coates. Back

139   See, for example, Qq 2 Miranda McKearney) and 36 (Sue Charteris) Back

140   Q 37 See also Q 36 Back

141   Qq 24 and 30 (Miranda McKearney), 74 (Annie Mauger) Back

142   Q 48 (Sue Charteris)  Back

143   See, for example, on the proper use of volunteers: Qq 31 (Abigail Barker), 50 (Sue Charteris) ,75 (Annie Mauger and Alan Davey) ; on the need for professional support, Qq 48 (Sue Charteris), 74 (Annie Mauger and Alan Davey), Ev w42 (We ? Libraries) Back

144   Qq 49 and 52 See also Ev 54 Back

145   Q 48 Back

146   Q 123 Back

147   Qq 138-139 and 150 Back

148   Qq 142 and 156-157 Back

149   Qq 123, 141 and 145-146 Back

150   Qq 149 and 151-153 Back

151   Q 175 Back

152   Ev w297 Back

153   Q 178 Back

154   Q 189 Back

155   See, for example, Ev w186 (Friends of Lambeth Libraries), Ev 50 (CILIP) Back

156   Qq 79 (CILIP and Arts Council), 97-99 (CILIP) Back

157   Qq 26-29 Back

158   Q 100 (CILIP) Back

159   Q 28 Back

160   Qq 159-160 Ev 78 (Local Government Association) and Ev w225 (Gloucestershire County Council) Back

161   Qq 134 (Elizabeth Campbell) ,55 and 61 (Sue Charteris), Back

162   Q 79 Back

163   Q 57 Back

164   Speech to The Future of Library Services conference, 28 June 2012 Back

165   Q 164 Back

166   Speech to the Future of Library services Conference, 28 June 2012 Back

167   Q 183 See also Qq 166, 168-169 Back

168   Q 56 Back

169   Pro-transfer to the DCLG: Q 11 (Miranda McKearney); suggesting this is a minor detail: Qq 60 (Sue Charteris) and 188 (Minister) Back

170   Qq 65-66 and 101 Back

171   Qq 64 and 102 Back

172 Back

173   Qq 64, 102 and 106 and Ev 74 (Arts Council) Back

174   Q 64; see also Q 190 (Minister) Back

175   Speech to The Future of Library Services conference: Back

176   Q 190 On concerns about the dowry from the MLA, see, for example, Q 84 Back

177   Qq 181 and 190-192 Back

178   Qq 58-59, 94, 135  Back

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 6 November 2012