Ambition for Public Libraries presents ‘stark choice’ for future of libraries


The Leadership for Libraries Taskforce has today published Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021. It aims to provide a 'direction of travel' for the next five years and to convince Councilors, government department and partners about the ways in which public libraries can deliver a broad range of priorities.

Nick Poole CILIP Chief Executive said, “We face a stark choice. We can either continue with severe cuts and closures or secure a positive future for people, communities and businesses that benefit from England’s network of public libraries. Ambition goes part way to securing a positive future. We now need a properly funded national strategy for developing and improving libraries and a more robust approach from Government when local authorities fail to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services.”  

The Taskforce was established to put a landmark report by William Sieghart to reinvigorate England’s public libraries into action. The report, published in 2014, called for clear local decision making and national strategy to secure the future of our libraries.

CILIP, the library and information association has published key principles to provide the necessary leadership and development of public libraries – and has called on HM Government, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Local Government Association and fellow members of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce to support them.

Some of these principles are in the Ambition, including recognition that England’s public libraries are part of a successful network which delivers key outcomes including learning, health and wellbeing, digital inclusion, civic participation and stronger local economies; that libraries should work with local community organisations to increase their reach and impact; and the need for a national skills strategy.

Other key principles are not in Ambition. CILIP will continue working with Taskforce partners to secure a clear and funded national strategy that support local decision-making and delivery. CILIP will work secure a fully-funded and evidence-based National Public Library Plan; the commitment library service points should not be transitioned out of statutory provision unless all alternative options for their maintenance have been explored; and more robust strategies from Government where local authorities fail to deliver a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service including sanction and the removal of library services into a national or regional Library Service.

Provide your views

We want to hear from the library sector with your views about the Ambition. Whether you are working in public libraries or in another sector, in England or another country, are studying, working or retired. We will cover reactions to the Ambition in February edition of Update magazine and publish the article as a blog.

You can:

  • Add your comments to the bottom of this article
  • Email Update magazine by Monday 9th January, 
  • Tweet using #LibraryAmbition


Image credit: Arrows by Dean Hochman via Flickr, original resized and cropped (CC BY-NC 2.0)


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