Peers urged to address literacy and skills crisis

Houses of Parliament
CILIP has warned that the UK faces an unprecedented literacy and skills crisis, and is urging the House of Lords to intervene.
In a briefing for a House of Lords debate on the cultural, civic and educational significance of local libraries and independent bookshops to be held on 13 October, CILIP outlines opportunities for the House of Lords to contructively intervene by urging the Government to:


  • Make provision in the Autumn Statement for the emergency relief from closure of public libraries in Local Authorities that are implementing budget cuts.
  • Revisit the draft Ambition for Public Libraries in England and to strengthen it through the establishment of a clearly-mandated and appropriately resourced development function for public libraries.
  • Restore the Advisory Council on Libraries to provide ongoing expert advice on libraries, books and reading programmes.

Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive, said:
“We stand on the precipice of the most significant literacy and skills crisis in the post-war era. The UK ranks at the bottom of teenage literacy league-tables amongst twenty-three developed nations. In order to compete in the global economy our success hinges on a workforce with advanced skills. Yet we are failing to develop basic literacy skills amongst young people.
“Public libraries provide everyone with equal opportunities to develop a love of reading, access books, and learn new skills. Since 2010, however, the public library network has been largely neglected. The number of libraries has fallen by over 6% and the number of qualified librarians has reduced by a quarter. Expenditure on public libraries in England fell by £69.1m in three years and the number of books has reduced by 20.5m in five years.
“We are asking the House of Lords to intervene and mitigate the impact of the impending literacy and skills crisis."