In an open letter published today, 11 November, CILIP has called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to "to work with the Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Local Government Association to recognise the importance of libraries, to protect them as far as possible in the forthcoming budget and to provide policy and financial support through this period of transition."
CILIP’s open letter has been sent in response to the Prime Minister’s letter to Councillor Ian Hudspeth of Oxfordshire County Council, 14 September 2015, expressing his concern and disappointment at Council proposals to "make significant cuts to frontline services - from elderly day centres, to libraries to museums".
Highlighting the impact of austerity measures on public library services, CILIP CEO Nick Poole writes,
"As the independent professional association representing the UK’s estimated 86,000 library and information workers, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) shares the Prime Minister’s concerns. The impact of reductions in centrally-distributed funds to Local Government has already been profound for the Nation’s publicly-funded libraries and their users and is likely to become critical after the Budget statement on the 25th November."
The letter continues,
"Equally, if not more damaging to the long-term public interest is the loss of skills and expertise resulting from the loss of qualified staff in publicly-funded libraries. 1000’s of qualified librarians have either lost their jobs or find themselves at risk of redundancy – a permanent loss of professional skills that will do profound and lasting damage to Britain’s future as a globally-competitive Knowledge Economy."
"If cuts to local libraries continue unchecked, it is all too possible that the legacy of your Government may be a network of hollowed-out services, delivering only the most basic of library functions and failing to meet the reasonable expectations of the public. The loss of libraries and librarians is a profound disservice to the ideas and aspirations of generations to come."
CILIP is a member of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, an expert group convened on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Local Government Association (LGA) to set out a vision and options for the future of the nation’s public library network.
CILIP has encouraged the Taskforce to work with DCMS and the LGA to set out a clear policy framework and national strategy for the maintenance and improvement of Britain’s public libraries.
Mark Taylor, Director of External Relations, CILIP
Mobile: 07792 635 305
Tel: 020 7255 0654
Notes to Editors:
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.
2. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) annual library survey 2013/14 shows a significant decrease in UK public library staff. In 2013/14 there 19,308 full time equivalent staff, a drop of almost 5% from 20,302 in 2012/13 and a fall of 22% from 24,746 in 2009/10.