Modernising Welsh libraries hinges on local authority support for skilled staff

The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals in Wales (CILIP Cymru Wales) response to the statement on public libraries from Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport on 9th November 2015:
CILIP Cymru Wales welcome the Deputy Minister’s continued commitment to public libraries in Wales, and his acknowledgement of the role libraries play in delivering a wide range of vital services including digital, cultural and literacy.
Mandy Powell, Head of CILIP Cymru Wales, said: 

“Maintaining and developing the professional expertise needed to deliver this vision will require Local Authorities to fully recognise and support the impact of these skills and expertise. With the reorganisation of local authorities on hold until after the May election the success of the Government’s modernisation programme hinges on regional commitment to funding vibrant local libraries developed and delivered by skilled staffed. 
“It's a false economy to cut the expert and qualified staff who make a significant difference to their local communities - a short term saving at the cost of significantly reducing opportunities for future generations, exactly at the point where their impact is greatest.”

CILIP Cymru Wales has been actively involved with the reports on which the Deputy Minster draws; the Expert Review and the Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee’s Inquiry Response
Ken Skates’ statement reflects CILIP’s commitment to developing a National Library and Information Skills Strategy, informed by our recent Workforce Mapping Survey and set out in Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy, our submission to the 2015 Governmental Spending Review.
Mandy Powell continued: 

“We welcome the statement of the Deputy Minster and his commitment to securing the future of public libraries in Wales. His vision of a network of Community Hubs that provide a range of public services is justifiably ambitious, and the role of professional information staff will clearly be crucial in developing a sustainable public library service that supports the needs of communities across Wales while retaining the benefits of a joined-up approach.”

Professionally led libraries have demonstrated how efficiencies are possible while continuing to provide the public with high quality services. A single Library Management System for public libraries in Wales not only has the potential to save money but also means that a single library card for Wales will be possible. In his statement Ken Skates projects “...potential costs savings of up to 70% compared to current expenditure on this infrastructure” from the shared system.
CILIP Cymru Wales believes it is crucial to secure public benefit by ensuring that Welsh libraries continue to have access to the skills and competencies of professional librarians, despite the economic pressures at play. Communities and volunteers have a vibrant and central role to play in supporting these services, but they should never be seen as a replacement for an appropriately staffed and funded library service delivering the full range of benefits which the public has a right to expect.
CILIP Cymru Wales will continue to work with Ministers, departments across national government and local authorities to ensure the voice of the profession in Wales is heard. Mandy Powell said:

"In the run up to the May election we will be campaigning hard with our members to make sure that politicians seeking our vote know how essential modern library services are. High quality libraries support strong communities, high quality education underpinned by knowledge exchange, cutting-edge research, literacy and opportunities for all, and a rich and diverse culture."

Press contact:
Mandy Powell
Head of CILIP Cymru Wales
Tel: 07837 032 536
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.

2. CILIP Cymru Wales is the national office for CILIP in Wales. Our vision is that high quality library and information provision is a fundamental requirement for an informed, democratic, and bilingual society in Wales and through its members it seeks to make such provision available to all.