Tag Archives: government

2015 General Election Manifesto – Speak Up For Libraries

The Speak up for Libraries alliance (which includes Voices for the Library) has updated its election manifesto in time for the 2015 General Election. It is urging people everywhere to make public libraries a central issue in the General Election and local elections.

Already, many library services are threatened by, or already experiencing, deep cuts, widespread closures of vital local branches – or the damaging policy of turning them over to volunteers to run.

This is a once-in-five-years chance to make sure central government understands that libraries are a low-cost, essential resource for the work of local councils, and for national agendas such as ‘Digital by Default’ – and deeply valued by local residents and the nation as a whole.

Speak up for Libraries believes that libraries, far from being obsolete, are more important than ever. That is why we are asking the government to make a public commitment to their survival and development.

Speak up for Libraries is asking MPs to sign up to the following manifesto when standing for election:

  • Give libraries a long-term future, with a vision for their future development and clear standards of service.

  • Enforce the commitment in law for local authorities to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service. This commitment should also include digital, ICT and e-book services.

  • Acknowledge that libraries are important to individuals and communities – especially in times of hardship.

  • Enforce the duty that local authorities have to properly consult with communities to design services that meet their needs and aspirations.

  • Ensure that local authorities receive sufficient funding in order to deliver properly resourced and staffed library services.

  • Recognise that properly resourced library services contribute to the health and well-being of local communities and of society as  a whole and therefore complement the work of other public services and of national government agendas.

SUFL colour banner PNG

 

Full details of the election manifesto, including downloadable copies, can be found on the Speak Up For Libraries site.

A stark warning about the future for public libraries

The release of the Sieghart report the day before the Christmas recess speaks volumes about how this government views the public library system. It is viewed by ministers as an irrelevance, as a service that provides no ‘value’ (mainly because it is not income generating). Of course, to the millions of people who rely on their public library service, they provide a valuable and highly treasured public service.

For the children needing extra support developing their literacy skills, libraries help them, to realise their potential and give them hope of a better future.

For the elderly who find themselves lacking the skills and ability to get online, libraries help them connect with their families and learn valuable new skills.

For the unemployed, demonised by the government and told to “get a job” using online services they often do not have access to, they offer the glimmer of hope that they can get a job that offers them dignity and security.

For society in general, they offer a space that is free from commercial influence. A space where they can escape from the constant pressure to buy buy buy. They can relax secure in the knowledge that the space is theirs, not that of a private company that sees them as pound signs walking through the door rather than citizens.

And yet, the future is bleak. Under the current government we have seen the rapid decline of our library service. And there is worse to come. A government who argues that everyone should have the opportunity to get on in life is pulling the ladder away from those who need it most. What hope to join the ranks of hard-working families if the mechanisms to get you there are no longer available?

What is clear is that a Conservative government in the next parliament would be a disaster for the public library service. With cuts returning spending to 1930s levels, local authorities will be under even greater pressure, resulting in services being outsourced or abandoned altogether. It is clear that the government either do not care, or view this as part of their long-term strategy. The release of this report now demonstrates how little they care about what happens to our public library network.

It is up to all of us, librarians and library workers, library users, professional bodies, trade unions, writers, to keep the pressure up on our elected officials. We understand the difference library services make. We understand how they provide opportunities for those cast adrift. We understand that for the isolated, the left behind and the cast aside, public libraries provide the chance to help them grasp the opportunities that so many of us take for granted. We understand that our cultural life is much diminished with a weakened public library network. We understand that they do have value. We need to remind our elected representatives of this every single day. We must not let them get away with the ultimate destruction of a valuable and cherished public service that levels the playing field and enables opportunity for all.

Abolition of the Advisory Council on Libraries to go ahead

In 2010 the Government announced the intention to abolish the Advisory Council on Libraries (ACL). The ACL was established as part of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, its duty being “to advise the Secretary of State upon such matters connected with the provision or use of library facilities whether under this Act or otherwise as it thinks fit and upon any questions referred to it by him”. However, almost 4 years later (early 2014) DCMS held a public consultation on this proposal and the Government response to the consultation was published last week.

The summary response from the Government appears below:

the Government notes that almost all respondents, i.e. six out of the seven that answered the individual questions, do not think the advisory function of ACL should be transferred to another existing body and that a slight majority i.e. four out of the seven respondents consider the ACL should be retained and improved.  While noting these comments the Government preferred option remains to abolish the ACL. The Government considers that the function of advising the Secretary of State does not require a statutory body and in the absence of the ACL, DCMS works closely and meets on a regular basis with relevant stakeholders to discuss library sector issues

We are extremely disappointed by this decision to abolish ACL, especially in light of the responses highlighting the role an improved and re-invigorated ACL could have performed in relation to England’s public libraries. We believe that the development of the ACL role could have provided independent strategic leadership and guidance for the development, support and sustainability of public libraries in England, as well as a means to enforce statutory duties and ensure comprehensive and efficient service requirements were met.

The full government response can be found here: ACL_Govt_Response__final_version_.

Voices for the Library response to the consultation can be found here: VFTL response Abolition of Advisory Council on Libraries

 

Grayling Ban on Books in Prison

Banning prisoners from being sent books unfairly restricts their access to information. (Image c/o banlon1964 on Flickr.)

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced changes to the punishment and reward system in prisons, stating that prisoners will no longer be allowed to receive books, magazines, birthday cards and other small items. Voices for the Library strongly oppose this decision. This move to view the prison system as wholly punitive in ethos rather than as serving also as rehabilitative and restorative is short-sighted and counter to the ethos of prison libraries and those who work in them.

Access to books and reading is important for many reasons. It has been found to support people’s development by extending opportunities for social participation and contributing to the development of cognitive thinking skills. Caddick and Webster (1998) suggest that access to the communicated thoughts and experiences of a wide range of others through reading enables individuals to become more aware of the ways they interact with and make meaning of the world. It expands their ability to think about alternatives and evaluate their options, which may lead to strategies for avoiding criminal behaviour. They also state that a core part of developing a feeling of inclusion and identity with others, and feeling a responsibility towards others is literacy, through which people develop an ability to reflect on their experiences. Through education and access to reading, “Prisoners see themselves differently; they gain confidence and self-esteem. They talk about having hope for the future, often for the first time. They feel able to envisage a different future and develop new aspirations for themselves.” (Prisoners Education Trust 2008, p.2) The right to be sent reading material and other items is also a way for prisoners to feel less isolated and cut off from the outside world, to which the majority will return.  Limiting access to books as part of a regime of incentives and earned privileges is counter-productive and more likely to reduce the likelihood that prisoners will respond to the scheme, which requires the reflective awareness that so often comes from reading.

Every prison in England and Wales has a legal requirement to provide a library service for prisoners. They provide access to books and other reading materials and provide support for prisons’ Education Services and other projects, such as Storybook Mums and Storybook Dads, which are charities that work to encourage prisoners to build relationships with their children through storytelling. Although there are currently no suggestions that prisoners’ access to libraries will be removed, prisoners’ access to the library is extremely limited. Furthermore, most prison libraries are part of the public library service provided by local councils, and their book stock belongs to the library system. As we know, across England, libraries are being removed from the public. Funds are being cut, which has significantly affected the amount of new and up to date books which can be purchased. Branches are being made volunteer run and their stock is no longer part of the shared library system. Other libraries are closing and their stock is being sold off in bulk. These books are no longer available to anyone, including prisoners. It is therefore important for prisoners to still have the opportunity to receive books via other means. Access to information is a universal, human right, and removal of any means of access to information by the government suggests a lack of value placed by the government in this right.

Major concerns over government inaction and lack of leadership

The following press release from UK public library campaigners highlights major concerns surrounding library cuts and the current inaction of the government and its partner organisations to address the issues or provide any leadership in this situation.

DANGER: 1,000 LIBRARIES TO CLOSE

That’s a full quarter of the total in England – all of them small
branches that cost peanuts to run, & are located where people need
them most.

HOW DO WE WORK OUT THIS FIGURE?
201 library service points were closed last year.
A further 336 are threatened with closure (to date) this year.
Arts Council England predicts a further cut of at least 40% by 2016.

WHY ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT TELLING YOU THIS?
These are figures you will not see on any official website or press
release. They are compiled by a librarian in his spare time* from
local press reports.

That’s just one example of what is NOT being done by the bodies

responsible for public libraries – the government (DCMS, Department
for Culture, Media & Sport) and Arts Council England (ACE).

AND CLOSURES ARE NOT THE ONLY BAD NEWS
Many libraries have been dumped on to local communities, to run as
best they can.

Many more stay open under council control, but are losing books,
opening hours and skilled staff.

CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS?
Yet, say library campaigners, the government simply denies there is
any problem. It points to a handful of new library openings, as if
these compensate for mass closures and downgrading.
It ignores all evidence presented to it.
Even worse, it has powers to help – but chooses to do nothing.

WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING
Many campaign groups and hundreds of reports in local media show that
the real situation is bleak. Check the website for yourself*.
For instance….
= Lincolnshire plans that 32 of its 45 libraries, plus an unspecified
number of mobile units, will either close or be passed on to
volunteers. That means losing 170 highly-trained staff (55 FTE) and
177 public access computers.
= Herefordshire decided to close ALL except its one central library –
and is now dealing with a huge outcry from the public.
These are only the latest to see their library service dismantled.
Mass closures have already taken place, from Newcastle to the Isle of
Wight, Gloucestershire to Brent. And about 3,000 professional
librarians have already lost their jobs.

QUOTE
Library campaigner Shirley Burnham says: ‘The Minister, Ed Vaizey, was
vociferous in defence of libraries when in Opposition. But he has
been frozen into inaction since coming into office.
‘He and his officials are in denial, muttering “What crisis?” as
hundreds of libraries are closed, or the keys handed to volunteers –
with no support.’

QUOTE
The Library Campaign is the national group for library users.
Laura Swaffield, its chair, says: ‘Library users have appealed time
and again to the minister to intervene against mass closures. He has a
legal duty to “superintend and improve” the service**. But he does
nothing.
‘And he does nothing about libraries that stay open but now provide a
far worse service. Scotland and Wales have national minimum standards,
but not England.
‘Finally, many communities are now trying to run their own libraries,
as the only way to save them. They get no national help or advice. Not
from the government, not from Arts Council England (ACE).’
At the recent Library Campaign conference in London, Jim Brooks of the
Little Chalfont volunteer-run library in Buckinghamshire reported that
130 volunteer groups have found their way to him, desperate for help.
Laura says: ‘Jim is the only national resource giving advice. It’s absurd!’

FUTURE? WHAT FUTURE?
Brian Ashley, who holds the libraries portfolio for ACE, admitted at
the Library Campaign meeting that libraries face a further 40% cut in
funding. But ACE has no shared plan to help local authorities manage
their resources – or focus on users’ needs.
At most risk are rural
areas and deprived urban areas. If a local library closes, travel to
another one is difficult and expensive. And few have the time, money
or skills to take it over themselves.
Yet libraries offer a lifeline to many people in need – especially to
those with no internet access, families with small children, those in
education and older people. Libraries are the last refuge of a
civilised society and cost next to nothing.

WHITEHALL FARCE
The government’s refusal to intervene verges on the farcical. Bolton
campaigner, retired solicitor Geof Dron, says: ‘The council did not
believe volunteer-run libraries would be sustainable, and simply
closed five libraries.
‘Local campaigners and the Civic Trust asked the Minister to use his
legal powers (ii) to intervene. First his officials lost part of our
submission. Then they refused even to meet with us.
‘The Minister, from the comfort of his Whitehall office, has refused
our request for an inquiry. He expresses no interest in the needs of
the young, the elderly and the disadvantaged of Bolton for literacy,
education and access to computers. He is not prepared even to talk to
us.’

WHAT’S MISSING?
At the same time, many libraries still under local authority control
have lost much of their bookstock, professional expertise and ethos as
cost-free, neutral places of study, reading for pleasure and access to
information (both physical and digital). 
A multiplicity of
consultancy studies and official reports are gathering dust in
Whitehall.
What is missing, however, is any plan by government or its partners to
address the issues or to provide an iota of leadership.
This is despite pleas by the All Party Parliamentary Group, senior
politicians and the professional bodies that represent librarians. As
a speaker at the recent Society of Chief Librarians’ conference said,
the Minister ‘needs to smell the coffee’.

WHAT’S NEEDED?
Campaigners say that much can – and should – be done to halt the
hollowing out or collapse of public libraries. Destroying libraries
signifies incompetence, not necessity.
Notably, a handful of local authorities are protecting or even
enhancing provision under the same economic constraints as others. The
DCMS ignores this evidence of best practice and refuses to contemplate
national standards for libraries, a postcode lottery of service
provision is inevitable. The minister (or ACE) should find out what
works, where and in what circumstances, and use his powers.

DIVIDENDS
Other countries are investing in libraries – from Australia and New
Zealand to China and South Korea.
A high quality public library service that serves the common good and
underpins the nation’s literacy will, campaigners insist, reap
dividends for the national economy.

But only if those responsible for libraries take their heads out of the sand.

===========================================================

www.publiclibrariesnews.com gives a daily breakdown of news reports,
and summaries by local authority area.
No official source does anything like this.

** The Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964 makes it a legal duty for
every council to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library
service. The Secretary of State at the DCMS has a legal duty to
‘superintend and improve’ this service – and legal powers to intervene
if council libraries are failing.

Arts Council England Live Chat and responsibility for libraries

Last week Alan Davey (Chief Executive of Arts Council England) took part in a live chat, during which he answered a number of questions related to the organisations responsibilities for libraries. The questions and answers are republished below:

Questions (from Gary Green)

  • How do ACE aim to ensure that the non-arts aspects of libraries is developed as much as the cultural and arts aspects? Areas such as (but not only) support for education & literacy, community & social aspects are as important as the cultural and arts focus of libraries.
  • Will the ACE charter and mission statement be amended to reflect your new responsibilities that go beyond the arts, as indicated above?

Response (Alan Davey):

We are already working hard to ensure that we join up arts and cultural activity with the wider libraries agenda, mainly through the Libraries development initiative announced in January. Areas such as education and literacy will be targeted through projects like the one led by the London Borough of Richmond, which tests the delivery of adult learning in libraries. The Books on Prescription project will also help libraries address health and social care issues by prescribing books from a list of high quality self-help manuals for people suffering from common mental health problems. It is also worth noting that most of the artistic activities going on within libraries will be used to support education and literacy, and will involve local communities. In answer to your second question, our mission statement has already changed to reflect our wider cultural remit and is very much embedded in our decision-making framework Culture, knowledge and understanding. Our charter has also been updated.

Question (from Silent Pete)

  • What experience does the arts council have to oversea museums and libraries? This seems a sector where the expertise of the MLA is missed.

Response (Alan Davey)

We’ve taken on a significant number of former MLA staff and recruited new people with the right knowledge to enable us to look after these new sectors. We’ve sought to engage both sectors in a constructive way and have listened very hard to their concerns and needs. We’re getting good feedback from the sectors about the way we’ve done this and so I think you cannot say we lack the right expertise.

Question (from nolarae)

  • The Rumor Mill is pretty active at the moment, saying that the DCMS will be split up after the Olympics. What potential threats does this pose for Arts Council not having DCMS holding ‘holding back the wolves’, i.e. other Govt Depts taking funding away from the Arts?

Response (Alan Davey)

Well, I’m not sure that wolves get much from DCMS budgets – it being the smallest department in Whitehall by far. Whatever happens, they’d need to protect budgets for arts and museums and there would need to be a place in Whitehall to represent their interests. In the past this has been the Cabinet Office, the Education department or even the Treasury direct. Some other countries such as Australia put arts and culture as part of the Prime Minister’s office, reflecting their importance. So if there is a proposal to abolish the DCMS there will need to be a convincing alternative so that the interests of arts and culture remain at the heart of government. And that is the case we – the sector and the Arts Council – have to argue as strongly as we can. It seems to me to be a false economy to abolish a body if you then have to reinvent it elsewhere.

From these responses it is welcoming to read Alan Davey’s commitment to libraries, and it’s also reassuring to hear that A.C.E. will still continue to employ staff to focus on libraries and museums. However, it’s not clear how many members of staff there are in comparison to previous M.L.A. staff numbers and how many of them have a specific focus on libraries.

With regard to Alan Davey’s mention of the updated A.C.E. mission statement, the focus is still clearly on the arts (below) and a welcome addition would be the acknowledgment that libraries have a wider focus than this.

“Our mission is ‘great art for everyone’ and we work to achieve this by championing, developing and investing in arts and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives.”

“We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. 

Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. 

Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.”

#tds11 Arts Council England Talent Symposium by Amplified2010

#tds11 Arts Council England Talent Symposium (c) Amplified2010 / Flickr

It’s also reassuring that A.C.E. are continuing to fund development initiatives for libraries and we look forward to A.C.E. building upon these initiatives, both in terms of the number of local authorities receiving funding for development work and the projects being funded. It’s hoped that successful pilots will be expanded throughout other library authorities and supported long-term. In the past some excellent projects have been left to find support elsewhere after the original funding ceased.

It’s also important to note that the structure of A.C.E is currently under review . The review runs until mid October 2012, with a decision on the final structure being made by November. The new organisational structure will be in place by July 2013. This review was primarily brought about by the need to cut administrative costs by 50 per cent by 2014/2015. Current proposals for the future structure of A.C.E. admit that there will be fewer staff, implying that there will be even less staff charged with focusing on libraries, especially as the number of regional councils will be reduced.

The review and proposed model takes the Arts Council England reports “Achieving great art for everyone” and “Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone.” as its key focus. Voices For The Library team commented on “Culture, knowledge and understanding” in September 2011 – we were encouraged by A.C.E. acknowledgement of the role libraries play beyond the arts and A.C.E. commitment to support and assist in the development of libraries. We also raised the point that even though funding was being made available to libraries, certain aspects of the Future Libraries Programme “aren’t necessarily seen as successful by local communities or the library profession, especially when they involve reductions in service.”

At this stage the key features of the proposed A.C.E. structure are:

  • A national organisation with major offices will be in London, Birmingham, Manchester and the South West. National functions will be co-located in Manchester, Birmingham and London.
  • Five porous localities covering London, the South East, the South West, the Midlands and the North that replace our current regions and areas.
  • Smaller local facilities will keep us close to and connected with the organisations we fund whilst significantly reducing our property costs.
  • An Executive Board of five members, reducing from nine, accountable for strategy and national priorities.
  • Leadership of art form and cultural policy expertise distributed across the Arts Council. Everyone will have a local and national focus.
  • Core funding streams of National portfolio, Grants for the arts, Major partner museums and strategic programmes, supported by an Investment Centre that will help us streamline our investment processes.
Unfortunately, there are no specific mentions of libraries in this proposal, and sometimes it does feel as if libraries are the poor relation in this arts focused family. We understand that A.C.E. will be talking to representatives from the library sector during the review and we hope that these discussions will help the organisation gain further understanding of the purpose and benefits of successful library services. A.C.E. will have a key role to play in the future of libraries and we look forward to it developing its role as their champion.

We will Speak Up For Libraries #librarieslobby

A rally and lobby of Parliament will take place tomorrow (Tuesday 13 March) in Westminster to highlight the value of public libraries and the important role they play. The event aims to persuade MPs to take action to protect public library services during these times of public sector cuts. Anybody who supports public libraries is welcome to attend.

The rally will take place from 12 noon, at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate Westminster, London SW1H 9NH. The lobby of Parliament will start at 2.30pm. Prior to the rally and lobby, Ed Vaizey’s evidence session for the Inquiry into library closures will be screened live from 10.30am in Central Hall Westminster.

The lobby has been organised by the Speak Up For Libraries coalition, an alliance of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff. Voices For The Library are part of this coalition.

Since forming Voices For The Library, we have constantly had to defend public libraries against those in power who do not seem to understand their value. We’ve seen local campaigns emerge throughout the country in response to these cuts – campaigners fighting for their own local libraries against authorities who do not understand the purpose of libraries, and do not understand how libraries and trained library staff benefit library users, the local community, local economy and the UK as a whole. Many of these campaigners have been put into a position where they are effectively acting as superintendent to their own library service, despite this being the responsibility of Jeremy Hunt & Ed Vaizey. Local authorities have not listened to local campaigners concerns. Neither have Jeremy Hunt, Ed Vaizey or the DCMS. So now, as part of Speak Up For Libraries, we must take this to Parliament to ask MP’s to make a stand and help protect the future of the nation’s threatened public libraries.

We feel it’s important to attend tomorrow to show those who dismiss public libraries as irrelevant just how important they are and why they are essential. We would urge you to attend if you can – the more people there are there, the louder our voices will be and the clearer the message will be that we will continue to fight and Speak Up For Libraries. If you are coming please sign up on the Speak Up For Libraries site.

However, if you can’t attend, you can still show your support by doing the following:

However you chose to do it on the day, please Speak Up For Libraries!

Evidence sessions for Parliamentary Inquiry into library closures

The second evidence session for The Culture, Media and Sport Committee Inquiry into library closures will take place on Tuesday 21 February (Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster).

The Committee will hear evidence from representatives of Arts Council England, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), Isle of Wight Council, Leicestershire Library Services and the Local Government Association.

Further details of the session can be found here.

The session will be screened on the internet via Parliament.tv

The first session saw Abby Barker (Voices for The Library),  Sue Charteris (author of the report on Wirral library closures), Andrew Coburn (The Library Campaign) and Miranda McKearney (The Reading Agency) give evidence.

Below are some of the comments and points raised during that session (paraphrased).

  • Miranda McKearney: The passionate work of campaigners over the past 18 months has started to shift the debate about what libraries mean to us all.
  • Abby Barker: A lot of people making these cuts don’t understand what a library is, or what it does, or what librarians can offer.
  • Andrew Coburn: In local areas libraries offer a social place to build communities, based around services they provide.
  • Abby Barker: Local libraries are important. Not all people can get to the central library branch. There is room for both large ‘destination’ libraries and small libraries to provide services. They complement each other.
  •  Abby Barker: The cuts are focused on books & buildings. Librarians aren’t just there to stamp books. Librarians are there to enhance your experience of the library.
  • Andrew Coburn: A lot of what library staff do is about direction, mediation & assistance. The fewer library staff there are in the system the more difficult it is to get an answer from anywhere in that system.
  •  Miranda McKearney: Even though ‘you clearly have access to the things you need to live your life. Lots of people don’t’. (Response to MP about why libraries are needed)
  • Abby Barker: If comprehensive & efficient could be more clearly defined, local authorities may be able to make better decisions.
  • Abby Barker: Library consultations are being run from the top down and local authorities are not listening to or taking into account users needs.
  • Andrew Coburn: What’s the point of the Secretary of State having powers of intervention if they aren’t used? He needs to “grasp the nettle.”
  • Andrew Coburn: How will volunteer run libraries affect the statutory duties?
  • Abby Barker: Volunteers can add value to a library service, but they shouldn’t be seen as a replacement service.
  • Miranda McKearney: Partnership working on a national level with librarians is difficult because there aren’t enough of them.
  • Miranda McKearney: There are some things you can only do nationally to improve library services – we need a national strategy!
  • Sue Charteris: Local authorities need to look at equalities assessment of local needs.
  • Sue Charteris: Isn’t keen on having more regulations, but feels local authorities need guidance from Secretary of State & Arts Council England.
  • Sue Charteris: Library services need proper communications teams to sell their benefits.
  • Sue Charteris: There has to be a prominent role for librarians in providing public library services. They are key.
  • Sue Charteris: Volunteers are well-placed to do certain things in libraries, but a sound policy on volunteering by local authorities is key.
  • Sue Charteris: The Secretary of State role needs to be more pro-active nationally.
  • Sue Charteris: Current public library legislation needs to be looked at, because it is “cumbersome” and out-of-date.
  • Sue Charteris: Believes that some kind of peer review would be useful to ensure library services are heading in the right direction.

Parliamentary lobby & rally 13 March 2012 #librarieslobby

An important Parliamentary lobby and rally organised by the Speak Up For Libraries coalition will take place on 13th March 2012.

The rally will take place from 11.30am at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH. The lobby of Parliament will start at 2.30pm.

We urge everyone to find out more and sign up to attend via the Speak Up For Libraries website.

You can also follow Speak Up For Libraries on Twitter and on Facebook.

Speak Up For Libraries are a coalition of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff, now and in the future.

Culture, Media and Sport Committee publish library inquiry responses

Today the Culture, Media and Sport Committee published the written evidence it received for its Inquiry into Library closures.

There were 130 written responses in total from a wide range of individuals and organisations with an interest in libraries. These included:

  • Library user and campaign groups
  • Public library authorities, councils and councillors
  • Library workers, librarians and representative organisations
  • Publishers and booksellers
  • National organisations such as Women’s Institute and UNISON who have been supportive of libraries
  • Charities
  • Individuals
  • Authors
  • Private companies

It is interesting to note the balance of responses from these different groups of respondents, especially from public library authorities. Only approximately 16 authorities or their representatives responded to the Inquiry. Considering that there are over 140 public library authorities in England this is a very low response rate. Compare this to 33 recognisable library user and campaign groups who responded, plus further individuals whose names we recognise as local campaigners.

We look forward to both reading these written responses to the Inquiry and following the oral evidence sessions which start tomorrow morning and can be viewed live here.