The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has today expressed concern following the publication of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report which suggests that all but a few local authority services used by the poorest and most vulnerable could disappear by 2015.
CILIP warns that libraries are often viewed as easy targets to save money; this is short-sighted and dangerous. Public library services offer people access to the information, tools and support needed to survive and thrive in today’s society. People use public libraries to look for employment, to access essential government services and develop their skills. The government is currently on a drive to make their services digital by default with many only able to access the internet at their public library.
The Rowntree report suggests that the depth of cuts and prioritising of services varies from local authority to local authority with CILIP warning of the dangers of creating a postcode lottery across England.
Phil Bradley, CILIP President says, “It is not an over exaggeration to say that the more that library services are cut, the more people will be cut adrift from access to basic information that they so desperately need. Some Councils fully understand this, and support their library service. Others do not and all too often the library is viewed as an easy target to save money, and the incorrect idea that a community run library by volunteers is a cheap alternative is heard more and more. If people are lucky enough to live in an area where a Council recognises the value and importance of a library service to the community, they have continued access to the resources, which makes for a better, more prosperous and literate community. However, in other areas, people are being denied access to knowledge and information which can help them throughout their lives.
An attack on a library service is an attack on a community, and for everyone in society - young or old, male or female, literate or not, with internet access or without, it is vital that they are not only kept running, but that they flourish.”
CILIP also reminds councils that the provision of a comprehensive public library service is not optional but a statutory legal requirement in England and Wales under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.
Phil Bradley adds “Despite the fact that a comprehensive library service is a legal requirement too many Councils are running roughshod over the needs and wishes of their communities in a short sighted attempt to save a small amount of money at devastating cost to the community both in the short and long term.”
Director of External Relations, CILIP
Tel: 020 7255 0654
Mobile: 07792 635 305
Notes to Editors:
1. Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s ‘Coping with Cuts? Local government and poorer communities’ report
2. 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. More information at www.cilip.org.uk
3. 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act