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My Library By Right

My Library By Right

My Library By Right is CILIP’s ongoing campaign to promote awareness and recognition of people’s statutory right to a quality library service.

Access to a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service is statutory under the 1964 Public Libraries Act (see below). Under the terms of our Royal Charter, CILIP is responsible for scrutinising legislation in order to ensure the “adequate provision of library and information services”.

Where we encounter decisions which put library services at risk, we will actively engage with decision-makers, campaigners and the local press and media to reinforce the public’s statutory rights.

Advice and guidance

Because the definition of ‘comprehensive and efficient’ is not clear under the law, we have partnered with the Local Government Association to provide a best practice guide for Local Authorities to use when considering changes to their services:

Download Delivering Local Solutions for Public Library Services

What the law says

1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act:

  • Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services.
  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has a legal duty for the stewardship and improvement of public libraries in England.

2010 Equality Act:

  • The Secretary of State’s duty to issue statutory guidance must be exercised in compliance with his or her duty under section 149 of the Equality Act – to have due regard of the need to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality of opportunity among protected groups. This means, for example, ensuring that changes to library services do not disadvantage people who may not be able to travel large distances
  • The widely-reported cuts to library services risk contravening these rules and we are particularly concerned that protected groups are likely to be disproportionately affected by any further reduction in library services by Local Authorities.

1998 Human Rights Act:

  • The Secretary of State’s duty to issue statutory guidance is reinforced by the obligation to act compatibly with Convention rights under the Human Rights Act.
  • The lack of guidance means there is not sufficient legal certainty about how reductions in library services are compatible with Local Authorities’ duty to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ services to support the rights of library users under the Human Rights Act including respect for their private lives, to receive information and to non-discrimination.

What CILIP will do

We keep up to date with public library provision across England and the UK and we make the following intervention where there are proposals to make significant or concerning changes to public library services:

  • As soon as we are aware of proposals we write to the relevant County Council or Authority to clarify the situation and the exact nature of what is being proposed
  • We ask the relevant teams to consider the factors set out in the Libraries Taskforce’s evidence-based sustainable planning guidance and the Local Government Association’s guidance
  • Our priority is to ensure that Councils are fully aware of people's legal rights and the value libraries bring to their constituents, and that they properly consult and work with communities to determine how meeting local needs can continue to be at the forefront of any decisions
  • In some cases CILIP will formally submit a response to consultations
  • We take every opportunity to speak to local media to highlight the long-term implications of cuts and to outline why communities need access to quality services and trained library staff
  • CILIP will continue to liaise with the County and Parish Councils concerned to reinforce the statutory nature of the public library service and the value of protecting appropriately resourced and staffed library services as part of the wider picture of support for communities
  • We strongly encourage all interested parties to engage with any public consultation processes and ensure that your views and expectations are registered
  • Once the outcome and recommendations of the consultation process are known, CILIP will engage with the County Council to seek assurances that the model put forward for implementation falls within a reasonable definition of a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service.

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