Independent Report on Public libraries chaired by William Seighart
CILIP submitted its evidence to the Independent Panel reviewing the state of the public library service in England.
- There is an urgent need to articulate a vision of the Public Library Service based on the work of Arts Council England: a positive and wide ranging role, delivered by forward thinking library practitioners.
- We believe that there is a lack of evidence to confirm that the public library service is delivered in a comprehensive and efficient way
- We believe that the closure of public libraries and the withdrawal of mobile library services across England has created a postcode lottery of provision and there is a real need to define what every citizen should expect as an entitlement under the terms of the 1964 Act.
- The lack of systematic evidence regarding the state of the Public Library Service in England contributes to a lack of an improvement culture.
CMS Committee Inquiry into library closures
We believe that the impact of closures and reductions in levels of service and staffing will be significant and damaging. And that the front loading of expenditure reductions creates greater risks of breaches of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
We set out our views on 'comprehensive and efficient' library services, the impact library closures have on local communities, the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and the effectiveness of the Secretary of State's powers of intervention under that Act.
We also urged the Select Committee to recommend the following:
- That the Secretary of State sets out a fresh vision for the 21st century public library service defining what comprehensive, efficient and accessible means and forming a basis for local planning and delivery.
- That the Secretary of State introduces a strategic framework for library services in England that can be used to assess the work that local authorities do in re-shaping services. This would enable the Secretary of State to ensure that any savings made in library services can demonstrate an assessment of need and impact and are part of a clear strategic plan in compliance with the 1964 Act.
- That the Secretary of State asks the Arts Council as a matter of urgency to review research on the social impact and value of public libraries, commissioning new research as appropriate, and urges caution in further cuts until the impact of these upon communities is clearer.
- That the Secretary of State uses the available powers of intervention where there has been clear evidence of a potential breach of the 1964 Act.