CILIP warns that cutting public libraries without thought or planning will damage society, hurting local communities and families. MPs have a duty to fully understand the impact of proposed library cuts.
CILIP's Chief Executive, Annie Mauger has written to explain the implications of library service cuts, to remind MPs that public libraries are a statutory service and to ask them to assess the effectiveness and impact of any proposed changes in their constituency.
Annie Mauger said, "In order to hold local authorities to account I have asked to MPs to give proper consideration to the true value of libraries, their contribution to learning, reading and literacy, community well-being, skills and economic regeneration. It is a simple fact that libraries are even more vital in difficult economic times. I am convinced that this government does not want to preside over the demolition of the free public library service and all that means for society."
MPs have been given key questions to ask local authorities about the public library service in their constituency. Questions include asking if the authority has a library strategy, if the public have been consulted, if the proposed savings are proportionate, if the library service will provide what local people need, and if the local authority has taken professional advice. CILIP is asking MPs to show leadership in local affairs and work with local authorities to achieve the best possible outcome for families and communities.
Annie Mauger continued, "We understand that public libraries cannot be immune to the financial pressures facing all local authority services. But libraries are statutory and are not the ‘soft option'. Savings should be proportionate. The potential threat to our country's public library service is of deep concern to local communities and CILIP. This is why we have contacted English MPs; to help them address the concerns of their constituents at a national and local level."
A letter and revised version of CILIP's guide to What Makes a Good Public Library Service has been sent to all English MPs. Read the letter and guide.
The guide argues that good libraries change lives and help transform communities. It states that a good library should be accessible with suitable opening hours; well-resourced with materials that are regularly refreshed; and employ knowledgeable staff. Good libraries should reach out to local communities, especially those who are unable or unwilling to visit, and provide programmes of activities and events.
CILIP is currently most visible advocating the value of public libraries. CILIP has serious future concerns about many sectors where members make a significant contribution and will work to raise awareness of the impact of the loss of people and services wherever they happen.