In the UK there is a law which requires local councils to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service for all people who wish to make use thereof. But now the government is pushing forward proposals which could see this changed. Local councils would no longer be legally obliged to provide a library service.
Local government officials are now considering whether a whole series of statutory requirements are felt to be ‘burdensome’. The list includes the main provisions of the 1964 Act in the midst of many other items.
By this route it is not hard to see that the central requirements for operating public libraries will be lost in law as part of a bundle of Government measures.
Write to your MP today! The government is attempting to secretly push through these changes. It is the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act which is the basis of all the campaigns to save libraries, and it must be defended.
Your MP is Sarah Teather – firstname.lastname@example.org
Your MP is Glenda Jackson – email@example.com
Or find your MP on WriteToThem. Make sure you include your home address in order to get a reply.
Here is a sample letter you can send to your MP:
Dear <MP Name>
I am writing to you as my MP and as one of those thousands of people who have campaigned both locally and nationally to save public libraries in recent months. In our campaign we do not deny the need for budget reductions for council services, but we do argue that those reductions in expenditure be made proportionately in such a way that they reduce council structure and needless overhead and particularly that libraries should be improved and not closed.
At the heart of our argument has been a plea that the Libraries and Museums Act of 1964 should be upheld by those responsible both in councils and in Government. All parties have vehemently confirmed their support for this Act in government and opposition, within the past 12 months. Mostly our campaigns are directed at local councils, now we have a matter that needs to be drawn to the attention of Parliament.
Yesterday we discovered a behind-the-scenes consultation between civil servants and local government officials asking whether a whole series of statutory requirements were felt to be ‘burdensome’. The list includes the main provisions of the 1964 Act in the midst of many other items.
By this route it is not hard to see that the central requirements for operating public libraries will be lost in law as part of a bundle of Government measures. Parliament will not have known that the matter was under discussion, and those who wish to use libraries will have, I am sorry to say it, been deceived.
One is dismayed to be alerted to this item on the Communities and Local Government website:
wherein people are invited to comment on the statutory duties listed, in order “to challenge government on those which you feel are burdensome or no longer needed”.
I am sure I do not have to make the observation that in life matters which are ‘burdensome’ are also often very important.
There are three specific references to Libraries, viz :-
DCMS_026: Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 1(2): To provide information and facilities for the inspection of library premises, stocks, records, as the Secretary of State requires – Necessary for Secretary of State to fulfil To superintend library service (see s1 of PLAMA 1964).
DCMS_027: Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 7: To provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. In fulfilling this duty, must have particular regard to the matters in s7(2) – Secure provision of local library services.
DCMS_028: Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 11: Supplemental provisions as to transfers of officers, assets and liabilities – Provisions provide, for example, continuity of employment for transferring employees. This secures consistency across library transfers etc and in line with other local authority employment legislation.
Please will you bring this matter to the attention of the Secretary of State for Culture and join in our anxiety by saying that no change to the Act is needed, as has been said so often, and if any discussion were to be held, it be held in the full light of parliamentary debate, not in such a covert way as appears to be taking place.
I would be very grateful for your support, and would be happy to brief you more at any time.