Tag Archives: volunteers

Words Fail Me – Trish’s story

Image c/o Kyle Emmerson on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

At this moment local authority services have not yet all been lost – but the plans for the savage further cuts required to achieve balanced budgets up to 2020 are already in place*. So it seems a timely moment to publicise what is happening.

As a mature student on Hereford College of Art Portfolio course I decided make a piece in response to ongoing government cuts, originally responding to the loss of social capital as voluntary groups shut due to loss of public funding. I find it sad that these organisations are often not publicly mourned in the way that we mark the loss of individuals – though we are all the poorer for their going.

It proved difficult to get time to work with the overstretched staff in the voluntary sector so I decided to focus on the impact of cuts to the arts instead – another area where social capital is being rapidly eroded. I was surprised to find very few explicit artistic responses to the current cuts in arts funding in the UK – all the cuts stories are illustrated with artists at work. This vacuum seems strange as it seems inevitable that many jobs and valued institutions in the arts will be lost as these cuts continue.

The idea for a satirical film came as a way to get across the ridiculousness and short sightedness of the cuts process and what is lost when apparently innocuous amounts are repeatedly removed from a service’s budgets. I hope the comedy of the story will also spark questions in people’s minds about what is happening and how they might respond.

I have long wondered whether it is best to light a candle of curse the darkness or, put another way, whether to focus on uncovering the negative so it can be resisted or looking ahead to possible positive ways forward. At this time, despite my natural optimism, it seems apt to focus on the ravages council cuts are inflicting on provision of local services. The public seems to have little awareness or understanding of the richness and contribution to local well being that council services and grants have provided until it impacts on them directly, though sadly at this point it is usually too late to respond effectively.

I worked in local government for 20 years so my considerable knowledge of what the sector offers and the challenges faced motivates me. I am especially keen that people understand the vital role of trained staff in running a sustainable service as more volunteers become part of the mix. Sadly local authority staff are often not in a position to speak out about what is happening, so they need allies outside the council in order to show what is happening and struggle together to find creative ways forward.

It would be ironic if the result of making this film were to focus attention just on libraries – the wider point of the work is to show that as one among many valuable services that are in the process of being lost. More works on the same theme are needed! I’ve found the process of making my first film with a zero budget in well under 2 months challenging and absorbing. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Trish Marsh, June 2016

* ‘Savings’ are laid out in Council Medium Term Financial Statements

The younger generation will miss out – Smita’s Story

I feel very sad to learn that our local library, Enfield’s Ridge Avenue Library is to be run by volunteers. I have been going to the library since my daughter was born 25 years ago. We used to attend story time and during the summer holidays both my children would do the readathon challenge. We knew the librarians and one of them who knew my daughter from a very young age still keeps in contact with her on Facebook.

The librarians had so much knowledge and would direct you to the right place to find the book you wanted whether it be for a school project or for leisure. In the Borough of Enfield, I was told only very few are still being run by Librarians and slowly they too will be run by volunteers.

I regularly attended the Library in Enfield Town during my student days and remember how helpful all the staff were in helping you find the book or reference.

I am preparing for a presentation and have recently joined the British Library, the second largest library in the world. I have been amazed with all the help that the Librarians have given to me and reminds me of the same help I received from my local library during my school days. It is a shame that the young generation will be missing out on all the knowledge that Librarians have to impart.

If you have a story to share about your local public library, or about how your local librarians have helped you, please contact us at stories@voicesforthelibrary.org.uk and we’ll be happy to share your perspectives on our library service.

Your thoughts wanted about volunteer-led libraries

A few years ago, public libraries run by volunteers were almost unheard of. But more and more local authorities are turning to the idea. And more and more local people are taking them on as the only way to ‘save’ them.

Speak Up For Libraries (a coalition of organisations and campaigners, including Voices for the Library) wants to hear from anyone with a view about these volunteer-led libraries in the UK, whether they are a volunteer, a library worker or a library user.

Let us know, via SpeakUp4Libraries@gmail.com :

  • What works well and what doesn’t?
  • What are the challenges and considerations?
  • What is the impact on the library service and what do you see as the future?

The information will be used to inform SUFL’s advocacy.  A summary of the evidence will be published.  All information received will be anonymised unless specific permission has been given to identify the contributor and the names of library or library service.

Please email queries, comments and information to SpeakUp4Libraries@gmail.com

(Originally posted on the Speak Up For Libraries site)

Public Lending Right and volunteer libraries

Following on from recent articles in The Bookseller and CILIP Update regarding the possible exclusion of volunteer run libraries from the Public Lending Right, we were asked by a local campaigner if this meant that authors could refuse to allow books to be loaned by such libraries? We contacted UK PLR registrar, Jim Parker, for clarification. Here is his response:

The first thing to say is that volunteer-run public libraries are not automatically excluded from PLR. Where a volunteer-run library continues to operate under the local authority public library service then PLR continues to apply. PLR would only not apply were a library branch to be closed by the local authority and reopened under new management by a voluntary or other group entirely independent of the local authority. So, for example, in North Yorkshire several branch libraries are now run by volunteers but remain part of the county library service and it continues to be possible for PLR to collect book loans data from them.   

I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your second question…. My understanding is that in situations where PLR does not apply, under UK copyright law unless a library is a ‘prescribed’ library it would need a licence from the author to lend a book out. But the situation may also depend on the wording of an author’s contract with his/her publisher over what the publisher is entitled to do by way of selling the author’s books.

As Mr Parker indicates, the situation is not clear cut. Some volunteer run libraries fall within the statutory provision of a local authority and others outside of it. This will determine whether they are part of the public lending right scheme or not.

Arts Council Chief Executive comments on need for skilled library staff

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England spoke at the Society of Chief Librarians annual seminar focusing on the future of libraries. During his presentation he commented that libraries need skilled, knowledgeable staff and shouldn’t be replaced by volunteers. It’s very reassuring that he made this comment publicly in a room full of senior public library service managers. It would be interesting to know how many people in that seminar were nodding in agreement with Mr Davey? How many of those senior managers were nodding whilst the public library services they are leading are proposing to introduce volunteer run libraries as a replacement for skilled and knowledgeable staff? If they are nodding in agreement with Alan Davey, then shouldn’t they be standing up and fighting for their public library service and fighting for the library profession in the public sector, rather than having councillors dictate the outcome?

The Society of Chief Librarians are in an ideal position to stand up against the deprofessionalisation and downgrading of the UK’s public library service through reliance on a voluntary workforce. At the same seminar Ed Vaizey stated that he will be maintaining close communications with the SCL. They have the opportunity to make use of the power they have as public library service leaders and champions and can set the agenda, rather than having it set for them.

If the SCL do decide that their member organisations are happy to go down the volunteer libraries route, what message does this give their staff about the SCL’s opinion of their worth, of the library professions worth and are they the right people to be leading the profession in this sector?

Library Love (c) Justgrimes/Flickr

Library Love (c) Justgrimes/Flickr

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.

Community libraries in Spain – does this sound familiar?

The Biblioteca de las Escuelas Pias library in Madrid (image c/o Turismo Madrid on Flickr)

The following post comes to us from Natalia Garea, a Library and Information Sciences student in Spain. Natalia blogs at X Punto Cero and also contributes to BiblogTecarios – a website sharing news and views on topics of interest to information professionals in Spain.

Two weeks ago the Arts councillor from Madrid, Fernando Villalonga, announced that two new libraries in the city would be run partly by volunteers. To support his idea he said it is common in English speaking countries to have volunteer-run libraries.

After some complaints from professional associations, Madrid’s Mayor Ana Botella the spouse of the former Spanish President, Jose María Aznar, backed the Arts councillor saying that not only should libraries be run by volunteers but also several other public services. She said that “We have to be able to give back to our society what society gives tous” (Does that sound familiar?). “I refuse to believe that a library won’t be opening because there aren’t volunteers to run it”, she added.

She suggested that since the Christmas parade is run by volunteers, why wouldn’t libraries? She insisted that this is usual in other countries.

After those statements not only librarians complained but also volunteer associations who reminded the Mayor that in Spain it is illegal to replace paid work with voluntary activity and that volunteers are not “cheap labour”.

The Arts councillor has finally declared that librarians wouldn’t be replaced by volunteers but the idea seems to be spreading. Several libraries in Palma de Mallorca are closing down and it has been suggested for them to be run by volunteers as well.

Because of this and the cuts that have been done in the last months (closures, suppression of acquisitions, changes in librarians employment conditions…) a demonstration was held on February 4th to support public libraries.

Library campaigners meeting with Ed Vaizey #savelibraries

At the end of 2011, Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson asked Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey,  if he would meet with her and a delegation of UK library campaigners. He agreed and that meeting took place yesterday (1st February) at The Houses Of Parliament.

As a representative from Voices For The Library I was fortunate to be part of that delegation, and along with Julia Donaldson, author and Campaign For The Book founder, Alan Gibbons, and Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaigner, John Holland, we met with Ed Vaizey – arranged through MP Jo Swinson (MP for Julia Donaldson’s constituency).

The four delegates were given an opportunity to present our views to Ed Vaizey with regard to the current situation in UK public libraries. We had just under 20 minutes for all of our presentations.

Julia Donaldson focused on the importance of public libraries for children and the benefits of having both librarians and good stock in providing a good library service.

Alan Gibbons highlighted the lack of intervention by the Government in local library closures decisions and asked what it would take for Ed Vaizey or Jeremy Hunt to intervene?

John Holland covered the situation in Gloucestershire Libraries and the lack of response by Ed Vaizey, The Secretary of State, and the DCMS to Gloucestershire campaigners requests and questions about the cuts and closures.

I focused on the national perspective and the fact that those deciding the fate of our libraries don’t appear to understand the value and importance of them.

Following on from this, we had between 25-30 minutes, in which Ed Vaizey responded to some of our concerns and discussed both national and local situations with us.

Ed Vaizey IRGlover

Ed Vaizey (c) IRGlover/Flickr

From my perspective, the key points in Ed Vaizey’s response/discussion were:

  • He doesn’t agree that library services are being decimated.
  • He has challenged library closures in the past, but has also supported closures of some libraries.
  • He felt it was up to the local authority to run library services, not his department.
  • The Government have no intention of removing statutory duties.
  • Community/volunteer run libraries have a place in the provision of local library services.
  • He acknowledged that some volunteer run libraries would be outside of a local authorities’ statutory service.
  • Local authorities could provide “cut-price libraries” – every library in a local authority shouldn’t be all singing, all dancing.
  • The comprehensive and efficient aspects of a local authorities duties should be focused on the way they were interpreted in the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act. “Comprehensive” equates to stock; “Efficient” equates to reduction of 400+ local library authorities. The 1964 Act did not focus on buildings.
  • He felt that the situations that led to Judicial Review’s in Brent, Gloucestershire, Somerset & Surrey recently were not linked directly to the need for intervention by The Secretary of State in a local situation and, using his skills as a barrister, he argued a fine line in how these two situations do not overlap.
  • There was no plan to re-introduce library standards. However, this didn’t necessarily mean that they were out of the question.
The use of volunteers in libraries was also discussed and, as Alan Gibbons highlighted, volunteers have always played a part in libraries, but there needs to be a clear balance/focus between the roles professional staff play and the roles volunteers take on, rather than an assumption that volunteers can provide a service as good as a trained professional.

It was agreed by all that it would be of benefit if examples of best practice for public libraries plans could be formulated, so that at least some guidance could be given to local authorities. Ed Vaizey pointed out that the Charteris Report (Wirral Inquiry) was seen as a good example of best practice, but as the delegates highlighted this was not a legally binding document, so did not need to be adhered to by local authorities when looking at library services.
From my perspective, one of the main issues that was highlighted at the meeting and has continually cropped up in other discussions, is the woolly and hazy area around who should take responsibility for libraries and how an “efficient and comprehensive” library service (within the scope of the 1964 Act) should be interpreted. As many of us have seen, some local authorities have interpreted the 1964 Act and statutory duties in a way that suits them and would leave their users with a substandard service, rather than a properly funded and resourced one that they should expect to have.

I should also mention that there wasn’t a single mention of the Future Libraries Programme… A flagship programme for libraries up until last year! How should we interpret this?

At the end of the meeting I don’t believe we persuaded Ed Vaizey to change his stance overnight on public libraries. But then again, I don’t think any of us believed that he would. However, it did give us the opportunity to raise the issues face-to-face with him that were our main concerns and we hope this was another of those tiny steps we keep taking that brings us a step closer to saving libraries.
Update
Below are Alan Gibbons’ and John Holland’s perspectives on the meeting.

On the other side of the counter at Winsford Library

We received the following blog post from Hannah Bailey (UNISON Assistant National Officer) about her recent visit to Winsford Library.

Like many people, some of my earliest memories are of visiting the library with my parents and siblings (Bawtry library in Doncaster, now sadly facing the axe, was our local). From these visits I harboured a childhood ambition to be a librarian – I think it was the satisfying clunk of the stamp that did it. So my work at UNISON on the libraries campaign has been the next best thing, but despite spending large chunks of my work days thinking and writing about libraries, it occurred to me that I had only ever been on the ‘other side’ of the counter. Shouldn’t I really get out there and see what working in the library service is really all about? Ian Anstice kindly stepped in and agreed to let me shadow him and his staff for a day at Winsford library in Cheshire. Emailing to make arrangements beforehand, Ian politely laughed at request to see what a ‘typical day’ in a library was like – no such thing as a typical day he assured me…..

An early train journey and bus ride meant I arrived at the library just after opening time on a sunny Thursday morning, the last week of the school summer holidays. Ian and I are in regular email contact, but have never met in person; however I clocked him straightaway putting out posters to advertise the library’s coffee and cake morning that day. Getting inside the library there were already a steady stream of people coming in, many to take advantage of the cakes on offer (I duly sampled a raspberry crumble muffin) whilst returning items and using the PCs.

The coffee morning is run regularly by friends of the library, who all volunteer their time to take part in fundraising activities and events. The positive relationship between staff and volunteers was clear, and it was also clear that they were providing a supplementary service that staff would be unable to undertake alongside their daily duties. Complementing staff and playing a role, but not replacing them. This has always been UNISON’s view and it was good to see it working in practice. Later that day, Ian discussed with the treasurer of the friends group how the funds were looking and the possibility of buying some new furniture for the children’s library – clearly their effort is having an impact.

First activity of the day was story time for the under fives, with a (mostly!) captive audience of twenty or so youngsters and a selection of parents and grandparents. Not for the last time that day I was reminded of the pleasure of being read to, something which seems to stop as soon as you leave school, but I will always love. Rounding off with a selection of nursery rhymes (including requests from the floor) story time was a reminder not only of how pleasurable reading is, but also the importance of starting young with literacy – it really is never too early and libraries play a huge part in getting families and kids into reading, which stays with them for life.

Meanwhile on the counter, a constant stream of people were coming in and out, putting paid to the rumour that nobody uses libraries anymore. Remember earlier this year when John Redwood MP made some startlingly ill-informed comments about libraries after a brief visit to one? Anyone deeming themselves worthy of comment needs to spend at least a day in a library before drawing any conclusions. After all, a visit to an uncharacteristically quiet supermarket at 10pm wouldn’t lead one to conclude that modern retail as we know it is dead would it?

Mid-morning behind the counter was of the highlights of the day for me – a young man aged no more than about 12 came in on his own to return a stack of books he’d read during his recent holiday. Checking the books back in, Ian reminded him he had a few more out and did he want to renew them while he was here? He agreed, telling Ian that he was halfway through one of them, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’. Settling his small fine, he then left. This is the kind of kid we’re supposed to believe aren’t interested in reading anymore, too busy playing computer games or hanging round the streets making a nuisance of themselves. I was truly heartened by this – and you can bet if it’s happening in Winsford, it’s happening at libraries all over the UK.

Ecological Consequences by J. Star

Ecological Consequences (c) J. Star / Flickr

Books returned over the course of the morning soon started to stack up behind the counter, so any spare time was spent by staff re-shelving items ready to be borrowed again. All the while the eight or so PC’s in the library were constantly occupied by a range of different people, from teenagers checking the latest updates on Facebook to people printing off e-tickets for impending holidays. While the volunteers packed the cakes and coffee away, members of the Mid-Cheshire Camera Club were busy mounting a small exhibition of their work near the entrance. The works are for sale, and as of one the members filled out the council’s insurance form, he explained to me that the library is the last open exhibition space available in the town centre to groups such as theirs.

An open building – it sounds obvious but it’s what libraries are all about. Still it was one of the points that struck me on several occasions as the day went by. Whilst downstairs the children’s library was buzzing and noisy, upstairs in the reference area there was an altogether quieter and calmer feel. I was told there is one man comes in every day without fail to read the newspaper for an hour at lunchtime. Then there were the groups of teenagers, in town and looking for something to do, drifting in and out. One man spent most of the day in the library, helping out the volunteers in the morning and staying for the afternoon. The library for him is a safe space, a place where he is welcomed and not judged.

After lunch I was invited along to join the RELISH group – read, listen, share – which is a reading group for people with mental health issues. There are seven regular attendees to this group, which staff told me was a real achievement. People who are ill and may already have chaotic lives drift in and out of groups like this. But here you have seven people who attend week in, week out, to read together and discuss the books. Everyone who feels comfortable takes a turn to read aloud, and after a few pages a member of staff poses questions to get the conversation going. It sounds simple enough, but seeing it in practice and the impact it has is powerful stuff.

Later in the afternoon there was some respite for staff on the counter to undertake other tasks. This was when I was introduced to the mysterious ‘back office’. Many critics argue that too much is spent on the ‘back office’ and that this should be cut in favour of the frontline. This obviously varies from area to area, however what was clear is that a varied selection of books don’t magically appear on the shelves, nor do titles which are seldom borrowed grow legs and walk off, making room for more popular titles. It all happens in the mysterious ‘back office’. And contrary to what some people believe, new books appear on the shelves every week in your average library. So for those who bemoan that the latest titles aren’t available, perhaps you should get down to your local library or hop online and find out. I’m guessing you’ll be surprised.

Winsford library is open until 7.30pm on Thursday evenings, the day I was there. Ian told me how later on in the day is when there is most potential for trouble, with the town centre emptying of shoppers and bored teenagers hanging around. Again the library is open to all – staff work on the presumption that people know how to behave, and only if someone is causing offence or disturbance to someone else will they intervene. But it does happen, and staff are often at the receiving end of anti-social behaviour. Not exactly the picture of a sleepy library in a leafy suburb that some would paint, but the reality nonetheless. It’s bad enough that paid staff have to endure such incidents, but would you volunteer to put yourself in this position?

So if I had to sum up my day in the library in a few points, what would I say? After spending the day working alongside a friendly and committed staff team, it was clear to me that:

  1. Libraries are busy, vibrant community spaces open to people from all walks of life
  2. Reading for pleasure is alive and kicking – you’re never too young or too old
  3. Libraries are about books, and the knowledge, comfort and power words give you

It all sounds fairly obvious, but the impact of savage cuts on local authorities seems to mean that many people want to trivialise the importance of libraries and library staff in order to justify their decisions. Anyone who disagrees with the three points above really should go and spend an hour or two at their local library and see if it changes their mind.

 

The views expressed in guest blog posts are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of  Voices for the Library

Statement on the Future Libraries Report

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the Local Government Association (supported by Ed Vaizey, the Minister with responsibility for libraries) have released their long awaited Phase 1 report on the future of our public library service.  The ‘Future Libraries: Change, options and how to get there’ report unveils proposals that they claim will ‘bring libraries into the 21st Century and meeting the needs of a new generation of library users.’

 

However, Voices for the Library believes that the set of proposals outlined will lead to serious damage to our public library network, and be counterproductive to efforts to modernise libraries and meet the needs of the UK public.It has been clear throughout the process that recommendations would be made for volunteers to run libraries.  As early as January this year, when Ed Vaizey chaired a round-table discussion on volunteers in libraries, it was clear that volunteer run libraries would figure in the proposals.  In fact, the idea was initially floated as early as June last year by consultancy firm KPMG (who are one of a number of consultancy firms that have seconded staff to work with the Conservative administration).

 

As we have stated repeatedly, volunteers cannot and should not replace paid professionals and staff.  Even volunteers involved in running existing community libraries have explicitly stated that volunteers should not be seen as a solution. The suggestion that libraries can co-exist with unrelated or non-council run services is also a cause for concern.  Placing libraries in sports centres, shops and village halls raises more questions than it answers.  Will there be trained staff on hand to provide the level of service that the library users will demand?  Will the staff be able to assist in providing access to the resources the users require?  A room that is merely full of books is not a library, no matter how the councils dress it up.  Most importantly, how will authorities determine whether a ‘library’ in a sports centre has been a success?  Without being able to provide data to prove its usage, how long will it be before the council seeks to withdraw funding altogether?  After all, if they do not know its level of usage they will see it purely as expenditure they can no longer afford. As the mission of the public library is lost, councils will fail, or continue to fail, to understand why they should provide a library service to their citizens.

 

Finally, proposals to place libraries in shops or to work in partnership with the private sector also provides cause for concern.  We have seen already the impact that the private sector has had on libraries in the United States.  LSSI (one of a number of companies looking to take over libraries in this country) have made cutting overheads and replacing unionised employees central to their plans.  The implications for those who work in libraries is clear.  In terms of libraries in shops, again there are implications that are cause for concern.  Libraries and librarians are bound by a commitment not to restrict access to books on any grounds except that of the law.  Retailers are not bound by such commitment and are subject to the demands of their customers.  As has been seen before, retailers will not hesitate from removing a book if it is seen to cause offence.  How will a library based in a shop manage this?  How will they reconcile the needs of two different sets of customers?  Will they be pressured by the potential impact on their revenues if they continue to provide access to a controversial text?  And what then for those that wish to access such resources?

 

Unfortunately, at a time when real leadership and vision is required to outline a truly 21st century library service, the government is found lacking in imagination, short-sighted in its approach and blinkered by ideology.  These proposals do not outline a positive future for libraries and will only further their decline.  We strongly urge the government to tear up these proposals and truly listen to the needs and demands of local communities across the country.  Furthermore, we recommend that library users express their concerns regarding these proposals by emailing the Arts Council, the department that now has responsibility for libraries, at museums.libraries@artscouncil.org.uk.