Call for urgent national inquiry into Northamptonshire library cuts as Council slips into bankruptcy
CILIP, the UK’s library and information association has called for proposed cuts to libraries to Northamptonshire County Council to halt pending a national inquiry. The Council has announced plans to reduce its provision of statutory library services by closing or transferring 21 of its libraries and reducing staffed hours in the remaining sites. CILIP is calling on the Elected Members, Councillors and Officers to suspend the implementation of this decision as a matter of urgency.
Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive said:
“This World Book Day it is simply staggering that the residents of Northamptonshire are facing unprecedented cuts to their libraries and a County Council with a very uncertain future.
“Libraries are no longer places of books and quiet study. They are the living, breathing heart of their community – a truly universal service which meets a wide range of needs from learning to wellbeing, enterprise to digital engagement and combating social isolation. They provide access to a range of information resources, opportunities for people to come together and build their skills a much-needed place of intercultural dialogue and understanding. Cutting libraries is a false economy – it simply transfers costs on to other frontline services such as adult social care, formal education and healthcare provision while reducing the value and attractiveness of local property and businesses.
“We understand the financial pressures on Local Authorities as a result of the reduction in Central Government Grants. However, we are in discussion with Councils across the UK who are finding ways to maintain or invest in their libraries despite this. Once you lose a library, it is extremely hard to get it back and the economic impact on communities reverberates through generations. We are therefore very disappointed that the Council has approved the closure of 21 libraries before the outcome of the Communities Secretary’s review of financial management and governance is known.
“I would like to express our solidarity with and support for all of the staff and library workers affected by this decision. Professional library staff dedicate themselves to meeting the needs of their community. They have the expertise to run efficient, safe services which respond to local needs – from helping people get online, developing literacy and skills and supporting young families to supporting local businesses and providing much-needed contact for those at risk of social isolation. We urge any CILIP members affected by this decision to make contact with our Member Services team who will be able to advise on the support we can offer through this difficult period.
“Finally, it is clear that the very significant cuts will result in a library service that can in no way be seen to be ‘comprehensive and efficient’, as required by the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. CILIP will be writing to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to call on them to mount an inquiry into this failure of provision. We urge Northamptonshire County Council to suspend the implementation of this decision pending any such inquiry.”
CILIP operates under Royal Charter “to promote and encourage the maintenance of adequate and appropriate provision of library and information services of various kinds throughout the United Kingdom”.