Response to CMS Committee report on libraries
- Published on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 09:39
- Posted by Vicki Mitchem
Responding to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report into libraries Councillor Flick Rea, Chair of the Local Government Association's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:
"We know people love libraries and local authorities are working extremely hard to preserve library services in the face of huge cuts to council funding. An impressive level of innovation and commitment has shielded libraries from the worst of the fall out but it is vital government recognises that councils can't work miracles. Any further cuts will have a significant impact on services.
"The rising cost of providing social care, combined with falling council funding, is eating away at the money available not just for libraries but all of the most popular services local authorities provide. Until the funding crisis in adult social care is sorted out the budgets for other council services will continue to come under enormous pressure.
"It is pleasing the committee has not taken a narrow, bricks and mortar view of library services. A library in the 21st Century can be a whole range of things, from a small e-book borrowing point in a shop to part of a large cultural hub.
"As this report shows across the country there's been a fantastic amount of creativity and ambition to modernise libraries in ways which engage young people, don't alienate existing users and make the most of diminished budgets. In the last few years we have seen huge strides in that direction with libraries opening up in village halls, pubs, shops, churches, phone boxes, day care centres and tourist information centres, as well as linking with health, social care, benefits and job search providers.
"The sector as a whole is absolutely engaged in improving library services. As well as launching its own best practice guidance on redesigning library services, the LGA has been and will continue to work closely with its members, the Arts Council and central government to encourage and support further improvement and innovation. The future of libraries is best served by councils continuing to innovate and work with their communities to come up with services which meet local needs."
In 2010 the LGA, Museum, Libraries and Archives, DCMS and 36 councils launched The Future Libraries Programme to explore innovative ways of providing services with less money which were fit for the 21st Century.
This has now been re-branded The Libraries Development Initiative and is a joint scheme with the LGA and Arts Council. There's now £200,000 available for 10 pioneering projects with an emphasis on ensuring libraries remain at the heart of their communities, providing access to information, lifelong learning and culture. It's promoting greater working with arts and cultural organisations, training and health projects, and commercial partnerships. read about the Libraries Development Initiative on the Arts Council Website:
Libraries Development Initiative
The LGA launched a report called Local Solutions for Future Local Library at its annual conference this year. It aims to act as a guide for councils which can't afford to keep library services going in their current form, but want to avoid simply closing doors. It stresses the importance of listening to communities, involving staff, finding alternative funding and combining services, and lists dozens of local case studies of innovation. Download the publication here: