Following our submission of evidence earlier this month to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry into library closures, we have been given permission to publish it on our website.
In summary we felt that:
- A comprehensive and efficient library service should be accessible, should be adequately resourced, should have a wide range of services and content, should have sufficiently skilled staff, and should be available to users at their point of need.
- The English public widely value libraries as a force for social good which should be provided free.
- Many planned library cuts and closures are incompatible with the requirements of the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964: removing qualified and trained library staff will result in a failure to provide adequate services under the terms of the Act and in many cases, councils are making decisions to close libraries based on misleading statistics, an inadequate definition of ‘comprehensive and efficient’, and the outdated Act itself.
- There is strong evidence that communities value local public libraries and that closures would therefore have a negative impact in several ways: on children; on the physical, mental, and emotional health of communities; on lifelong learning; on community cohesion and inclusivity; and on local economies.
- The powers of intervention given to the Secretary of State are not deficient. The failure lies with the Secretary of State’s lack of willingness to exercise these powers, coupled with lack of guidance from senior ministers and appropriate Government departments.
Our full response to the Inquiry can be found here.
We have also been invited to give oral evidence to the Committee leading the Inquiry.