Yesterday’s (29 October) debate in the House Lords on the use of volunteers in public libraries once again illustrates the importance that all local communities put on services provided by their local public library. The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) believes that all communities should have the benefits of a professionally staffed library service, one that identifies and meets the information and reading needs of individuals, families and the community.
CILIP shares the concern of some speakers in the debate that the growth of community-managed libraries reliant on volunteers risks a two-tiered service that creates a postcode lottery where the quality of library services vary significantly across the country.
“Volunteers make a great contribution to the public library service in so many ways” CILIP President, Phil Bradley, commented. “But they should supplement the role of skilled and knowledgeable staff and not replace them”.
Phil continued: “We need to better understand the current position regarding community-managed libraries and how far funding cuts have impacted on the public library service generally. I call upon the Secretary of State for Culture to publish the review that the Government promised by the end of 2013 into the cumulative effect on library services of the reduction in local authority provision and the growth of alternatives such as community libraries.
This promise was made in the Government’s response to the Culture, Media and Sport 2012-13 Inquiry into library closures, and it is a promise that should be honoured. The annual review should be debated in parliament, which is what CILIP and the many other organisations and friends groups expected. Failure to do so will only strengthen the view that the Government is only paying lip service to the concept of a comprehensive library service for everyone.”
CILIP members, library staff and campaigners will be debating these issues as well at the Speak Up for Libraries conference on 23 November jointly sponsored by a number of organisations and individuals including CILIP. “I am looking forward to hearing the views of those providing a library service on the frontline” Phil Bradley said. “I am sure it will be passionate and based on a commitment to ensuring all communities have access to the professionally staffed public library service they need and deserve”.
Aaron Hussey, Communication & Campaigns Manager, CILIP
Telephone: 020 7255 0653
Notes to editor:
1. CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. CILIP’s vision is a fair and economically prosperous society underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. Visit www.cilip.org.uk for more information. Follow us on Twitter @CILIPInfo
2. The Lords debate can be found at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/131029-gc0001.htm#13102978000371
3. In its response to the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee Report into Library Closures published in January 2013 (CM 8535), the Government stated: “We will of course honour our commitment to publish a review of what has happened in libraries in England and what the service looks like. It is a commitment which we will fulfil, in collaboration with the LGA and the Arts Council, at the end of 2013 – rather than at the end of 2014 – and annually thereafter”.
4. Speak Up For Libraries organisations include the Campaign for the Book, CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, The Library Campaign, UNISON and Voices for the Library. For more information visit, www.speakupforlibraries.org.