We are pleased to share this open letter from CILIP CEO Annie Mauger to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
An open letter to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
As a well-educated man who enjoys delivering a well-crafted phrase I know you understand how a love of reading and learning can transform someone’s life. It is clear, however, that you do not understand that public libraries are a statutory service and, greatly to their credit, it was a Conservative government that made them so.
In an article in the Sunday Telegraph you said:
“…there is no statutory obligation to provide a library service, but there is plenty of ill-thought-out legislation about equalities and heaven knows what, emanating from Westminster, imposed from Whitehall and slavishly obeyed by local authorities. Councils are not obliged to have libraries…”
Sorry Boris, but this is just plain wrong. Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act (1964) local authorities are required by statute to provide a public library service which is comprehensive and efficient, and available to all who wish to use it.
Public libraries make a huge contribution to society; children that use public libraries are twice as likely to be above average readers; they help the 5.2 million adults who struggle with reading and writing; they are a lifeline to so many older people; and are at the heart of many communities.
At a time when many local authorities are making cuts to library services, going around saying authorities do not have a statutory obligation to provide public libraries when they do is breathtakingly irresponsible.
I am happy to meet you and talk about how we can best support our libraries through tough economic times. You can find out what makes a good library service at www.cilip.org.uk/goodlibraries.
The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals