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All-Party Parliamentary Group on

Libraries, Literacy and Information


Management

Report of the Inquiry into the Governance


and Leadership of the Public Library Service
in England

September 2009
Declaration on Resourcing

The Inquiry was funded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
(CILIP) at a total cost of £10,523 including VAT. It was co-sponsored by CILIP and the National
Literacy Trust. Dr Bob McKee, Chief Executive of CILIP, and Jonathan Douglas, Director of the
National Literacy Trust, served as Advisers and Norman Turner of Turnaround Associates Ltd
acted as Consultant to the Inquiry. Organisational support was co-ordinated by David Hemy.
Mark Wheeler and Caroline Jackson of Insight Public Affairs provided administrative support to
the Inquiry (registered May 2009).

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Membership of the Inquiry

Lyn Brown, MP (Labour, West Ham) [Chairman until July 2009]

Lynda Waltho, MP (Labour, Stourbridge) [Chairman from July 2009]

Nia Griffith, MP (Labour, Llanelli)

Mark Pritchard, MP (Conservative, The Wrekin)

Anne Snelgrove, MP (Labour, South Swindon)

Lord Tope (Liberal Democrat, House of Lords)

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Contents

Page

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

2. Summary of Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

3. Headline Summary of Written Submissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

4. Headline Summary of the Evidence Sessions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

5. Conclusions : The Six Key Lines of Enquiry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

5.1 The strengths and weaknesses of the present system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

5.2 The role of local communities in decision-making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

5.3 Superintendence of the public library service by central government . . . . . . 21

5.4 The role of local authorities in the provision of public library services . . . . . . 22

5.5 The respective governance and leadership roles of national agencies . . . . . 22

5.6 The extent of requirements for change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

6. Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

6.1 Individuals and Organisations providing Written Submissions . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

6.2 Witnesses attending hearings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

6.3 Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

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1. Introduction

Following a discussion about the growing


concerns in relation to the state of health of
the public library service in England, the
theme of this Inquiry was agreed at the
Annual General Meeting of the All Party
Parliamentary Group in June 2008. We
agreed that we should focus specifically on
the effectiveness of arrangements for the
governance and leadership of our public
library services.

Since that time, two other reviews of public


libraries have taken place or are in progress.
The Unison report “Taking Stock” was
launched and the DCMS Modernisation
review is due to report shortly. There was a
possibility that the DCMS Review would
incorporate governance and leadership within
its remit and so we awaited its brief and
projected outcomes. However, there would
appear to be no duplication with the APPG
proposals and we have tried at all times to
resist the temptation to stray beyond our very bodies. The effectiveness, or otherwise, of
specific remit. The role, purpose and content this arrangement, its definitions and
of libraries are being considered elsewhere. regulation has been the subject of extensive
We recognized that some of our eventual debate. What do you consider to be the
recommendations may well beg questions for key strengths and weaknesses of the
others to answer in due course. present arrangements? Are there any non-
negotiables?
Accordingly, and in line with our AGM
decision, the Chartered Institute of Library
and Information Professionals (CILIP) agreed 2. Should local communities have a greater
to fund the Inquiry and it was co-sponsored say in decisions about the public library
by CILIP and the National Literacy Trust. Bob service?
McKee, Chief Executive of CILIP, and For many commentators, the concept of a
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National library at the very heart of a community is a
Literacy Trust, served as advisers and Norman powerful vision. Is this local focus reflected
Turner of Turnaround Associates Ltd was appropriately in local governance and
appointed as consultant to the Inquiry. consultation arrangements? Are there other
mechanisms for engaging local people in
We agreed to pursue six specific lines of service planning and delivery?
enquiry which were as follows:
3. Should central government do more to
1. What are the strengths and weaknesses superintend the public library service?
of the present system for the
Since 1964 there have been questions
governance and leadership of the public
about the balance between statutory
library service in England?
requirements and the rights of local
The Public Libraries Act 1964 still provides authorities to decide their own levels of
the national statutory framework and the service provision. Do you think that central
general context for local service delivery by government intervention has been
local authorities, who are the accountable appropriate to the circumstances?

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4. Are local authorities the best agency to
provide public library services?
Although there have been some modest
moves towards externalisation of service
delivery to the private and third sectors, the
majority of local authorities continue to
provide library services directly.
Collaboration and partnership, to varying
degrees, continue to be a feature of the
service at all levels. Is this still the most
appropriate approach to service delivery or
could another means be more effective?

5. What are the governance and leadership


roles of the Advisory Council on Libraries
(ACL), the Museums, Libraries and
Archives Council (MLA) and the
Department of Culture, Media and Sport
(DCMS)?
The ACL is a library specific requirement of
the 1964 Act and the MLA has recently
reviewed its approach to its three functional
responsibilities. Are their respective roles 6. What changes (if any) are required to
and responsibilities clear and fit for purpose improve and strengthen governance and
and how do they relate to the policy function leadership?
of DCMS? Is the public library service achieving its

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potential? Is it appropriately represented? Witnesses were then invited to attend 5
Is there a clear sense of purpose? Is it true evidence sessions which were held in round
that public libraries demonstrate low table format in May 2009. A brief hiatus was
relevance and low profile? Are changes created in June 2009 when the implications of
required? If so, what are they and how can the Government reshuffle included a change of
they be achieved? Chair of the Inquiry. The review and its
methodology were further considered
In April 2009 written submissions were at our AGM in July 2009.
directly invited from local authorities in
England, various agencies and organisations, This final report with recommendations was
and individuals with a direct and active agreed by the All Party Parliamentary Group in
interest in the public library service. In September 2009.
addition, a general invitation to submit
comments was disseminated via press and
media. A total of 60 written submissions were
received.

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2. Summary of Recommendations 2.5 The core public library service should
continue to be free at the point of
The recommendations are listed broadly in delivery (5.1).
priority order as assessed by the Inquiry
members. The relevant section in Chapter 5 2.6 The purpose, role, composition and
Conclusions is shown in parenthesis. business programme of the Advisory
Council for Libraries should be
2.1 Government funding and functional reviewed and clearly articulated via
responsibility for public libraries appropriate dissemination and
should be brought together within a promotion including an annual report
single government department (5.5). and website (5.5).

2.2 Powers of intervention should be


retained by the Secretary of State and 2.7 A Library Development Agency for
be underpinned by clear guidance on England (LDAE) should be established,
the current definition of “a inter alia to:
comprehensive and efficient service” ● advocate for public libraries
(5.3) ● articulate a national vision
● establish marketing, awareness and
2.3 The application of the Public Libraries promotional programmes
Act 1964 should be clarified by a clear ● disseminate good practice
definition of the minimum level of ● establish a comprehensive evidence
service (or core service) to be base
expected by customers (5.1) ● facilitate quality improvements (5.5).

2.4 Local authorities should continue to 2.8 In the light of the above, the role,
carry responsibility and accountability function and funding of the MLA
for the provision of public library should be adjusted accordingly (5.5).
services in their area (5.1).

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2.9 Local authorities should publish a
code of customer engagement giving a
clear methodology for informing,
consulting and involving their users
and non-users in the planning of
service provision (5.2).

2.10 The use of volunteers should be


positively encouraged to form part of
the customer offer but not as a
substitute for core service
provision (5.2)

2.11 Local authorities should publish a


code of practice in relation to the use
of volunteers which should include
practical support arrangements
regarding hours, training, expenses,
meals arrangements and police 2.14 The MLA (or LDAE) should develop and
checks etc (5.2). actively promote training schemes for
library personnel to improve
management, leadership and
2.12 Local authorities should be
corporate governance
encouraged to further develop
skills (5.4).
collaborative arrangements with
particular emphasis on the provision of
back office services (5.4).

2.13 The MLA (or LDAE) should commission


a mid-term communications strategy
for the public library service and
programme its implementation
accordingly (5.1).

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3. Headline Summary of Written public library service in England?
Submissions
The Public Libraries Act 1964 still
Note: the full written submissions are provides the national statutory
available at www.cilip.org.uk/appg framework and the general context for
local service delivery by local
authorities, who are the accountable
3.1 Introduction bodies. The effectiveness, or
Sixty written submissions have been otherwise, of this arrangement, its
received in response to both the specific definitions and regulation has been the
and open invitations. Thirty -one subject of extensive debate. What do
responses are from local authorities and you consider to be the key strengths
the remainder are from a range of and weaknesses of the present
organisations and individuals. Details of arrangements? Are there any non-
responses are shown at Appendix 6.1. negotiables?

The submissions vary in detail and


viewpoint, although there is consensus Summary of key points:
around a few important issues, and they
merit careful reading. This headline There is broad agreement about 3 non
summary provides an introductory negotiables: a statutory framework, a service
overview of key points, written in order of free at the point of delivery and local
the questions posed. authorities as service providers.

In addition to the above, strengths identified


3.2 What are the strengths and include:
weaknesses of the present system for ● Local democratic accountability
the governance and leadership of the ● Best policy fit for local circumstances

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● Availability of powers of intervention by 3.3 Should local communities have a
Secretary of State greater say in decisions about the
● Strong public support (especially at times public library service?
of crisis)
For many commentators, the concept
● National asset of 4,500 buildings and
of a library at the very heart of a
associated services
community is a powerful vision. Is
● Helpful and expert staff
this local focus reflected appropriately
● Diversity and innovation
in local governance and consultation
● Energy of local initiatives
arrangements? Are there other
mechanisms for engaging local people
in service planning and delivery?
Weaknesses cited include:
● No coherent national vision nor grand plan
for the public library service
Summary of key points:
● No agreed and articulated national offer
● Lack of definition of comprehensive and
The key summary points include:
efficient service
● There is a virtually unanimous ‘yes’ or ‘yes,
● Confusing array of bodies with a role in
of course’ or ‘yes, but’, response to the
leading the public library movement
suggestion that local communities should
● Few local and no national leadership
have a greater say.
voices
● No coordinated programmes for advocacy,
● Some concerns are expressed that non
marketing or promotion
● No policy vision of value of culture nor the
users (and even users) are not informed
role of libraries within it enough about their local libraries to have a
● Service fragmentation and disparity
meaningful engagement in decision
● Insufficient political and managerial clout at
making. Customer updates by email and
local level other basic communication tools are still
● Inconsistent approach to joining up the exception rather than the rule.
services
● Loss/lack of standards and inspection
regime
● Inadequacy of NI9
● Public Libraries Act requires overhaul
● Division between policy(DCMS) and
funding(DCLG)
● Lack of access to central Government
funding
● Failure by Secretary of State to intervene
● Intervention triggers are unclear
● Individual councils define the public library
service
● Huge gap between the best and the worst
● Poor dissemination of best practice
● Reduced critical mass in smaller unitaries
● Book lending is unchallenged default
position
● Separation of public libraries from the
general library sector
● Ill equipped and unhelpful staff
● Ineligibility for lottery funding

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● Libraries are perceived as honest brokers nevertheless is too little used. Most
and neutral ground and must avoid one acknowledged that the definition of
faith, culture or ideology dominating. ‘comprehensive and efficient’ must be
expressed more precisely for the power to be
● There should be an emphasis on maximising workable. A number of respondents
the existing governance arrangements to suggested strengthening the power or
ensure that local diversity is reflected. scrapping the power.
Library matters should feature at Local
Strategic Partnerships, community forums Superintendence is not viewed as necessarily a
and area boards and within Local Area negative process. Some suggested
Agreements. There is a role for ward intervention in the form of clear guidance – “like
members to act as facilitators. other Departments” – or via Building Schools
for the Future type initiatives.
● A key strength of libraries is their position
within larger networks; independent
management could be a problem in the 3.5 Are local authorities the best agency to
absence of underpinning general standards. provide public library services?

● A number of examples are cited where Although there have been some modest
Friends Groups are involved in stock moves towards externalisation of
selection, refurbishment planning and staff service delivery to the private and third
interviews. There is separately a fear sectors, the majority of local authorities
expressed that community ownership is continue to provide library services
often a result of budgetary constraint; directly. Collaboration and partnership,
additionally that where library issues are to varying degrees, continue to be a
complex a professional judgement is feature of the service at all levels. Is
required. this still the most appropriate approach
to service delivery or could another
● Engagement tools cited included residents means be more effective?
panels, surveys, focus groups, comment
cards. Some emerging work has been
flagged involving volunteer groups, a young Summary of key points:
people’s management board, YouTube,
Twitter and mobile phone portals. There was a virtually unanimous agreement that
local authorities are the best agency to promote
public library services, with a few caveats
3.4 Should central government do more to including:
superintend the public library service?
● As part of a diverse commissioning regime,
Since 1964 there have been questions ● With improved partnership and
about the balance between statutory collaboration,
requirements and the rights of local ● Via a Trust but with ownership retained,
authorities to decide their own levels of ● With improved management training.
service provision. Do you think that
central government intervention has Some concerns were expressed about the
been appropriate to the circumstances? perceived diminishing status of library chief
officers and their services within local
authorities.
Summary of key points:

There was a majority view that intervention by 3.6 What are the governance and leadership
the Secretary of State should only be used in roles of the Advisory Council on
truly exceptional circumstances but Libraries (ACL), the Museums, Libraries

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and Archives Council (MLA) and the A very small percentage of respondents
Department of Culture, Media and supported the present DCMS position. A
Sport (DCMS)? number suggested either moving library
responsibility to Department for Communities
and Local Government or moving library
The ACL is a library- specific
money to DCMS. Other suggestions
requirement of the 1964 Act and the
included transferring responsibility to the then
MLA has recently reviewed its
Department of Innovation and Universities and
approach to its three functional
Skills or to an amalgam of departments.
responsibilities. Are their respective
roles and responsibilities clear and fit
There were calls for ACL/MLA to be replaced
for purpose and how do they relate to
by a library development agency, or a single
the policy function of DCMS?
library and reading agency and a further
suggestion that they be subsumed within a
Summary of key points: new Non Departmental Public Body for the
cultural sector. Other suggestions include
There is a virtually unanimous view that the consideration of new or enhanced roles for,
role and purpose of ACL is confused and amongst others, the British Library, CILIP and
unclear. It is referred to variously as the Society of Chief Librarians.
‘mysterious/closed shop/talking shop’
although its strength in bringing practitioners
to the table is also highlighted. There is a 3.7 What changes (if any) are required to
widely shared view that it should be improve and strengthen governance
disbanded. and leadership?

There is a strong view that MLA is museums Is the public library service achieving
focused and does not have a good record its potential? Is it appropriately
with libraries, although some think that it may represented? Is there a clear sense of
now be in a position to contribute more purpose? Is it true that public
effectively to the library agenda and should be libraries demonstrate low relevance
given time. The relationship with the DCMS is
unclear. Some respondents regretted the
recent changes to the MLA regional
structures.

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and low profile? Are changes
required? If so, what are they and
how can they be achieved?

Summary of key points:

Although some notable differing views were


expressed, there was a general consensus
around the following requirements for change.

● One lead voice for libraries


● A national vision for the public library
service
● Clarification of the service offer and
definition of the minimum level of service to
be expected by customers.
● Improved marketing and promotion of
services
● Establishment of a single library
development agency or similar
● Bring library policy and funding together
within a single government department
● Overhaul and update the Public Libraries
Act and provide appropriate regulatory
framework
● Establishment of an effective national
process for the dissemination of good
practice Other minority proposals included:
● Establishment of a comprehensive ● a realignment to a fundamental education
evidence base to demonstrate impacts role,
● Access to central investment streams ● reducing the number of independent library
authorities,
A small minority thought the status quo could ● the establishment of a national leadership
work in theory but success would be programme for libraries,
dependent on individuals. The view was held ● statutory Lead Members/Heads for Culture,
that the priority should be more productively and
focused on making existing arrangements ● the identification of a 21st Century
work. “Carnegie moment”

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4. Headline Summary of the Evidence
Sessions Discussions focused around:
● the complex and dispersed nature of
Note: The full transcripts of both hearings library leadership
are available at www.cilip.org.uk/appg ● the relationship between DCLG and
DCMS
● performance management
4.1 The first Evidence Session was held on methodologies and accountabilities
5 May 2009 before, ● staff training and development
Lyn Brown MP (Chair) ● local determination of libraries versus
Nia Griffith MP national prescription
Mark Pritchard MP ● the public as key stakeholder
Anne Snelgrove MP ● the nature of volunteering
Lord Tope ● an evidence base for library impacts
Lynda Waltho MP

4.1.2 The second Roundtable was held with a


4.1.1 The first Roundtable comprised general team from the Museums, Libraries and
library stakeholders: David Murray, Archives Council comprising Roy Clare,
Divisional Director for Community and Chief Executive, Astra Farquharson,
Customer Services, London Borough of Senior Parliamentary and Stakeholder
Newham; Graham Fisher, Chief Executive Relations Officer and Sue Wilkinson,
of Toynbee Hall and formerly Chief Director of Policy.
executive of MLA London; Tim Coates,
public libraries observer and Following a presentation by Roy Clare,
commentator; Marion Boston, Unison; discussions focused around:
Charlotte Holloway, New Local ● library service improvements versus
Government Network. status quo

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● MLA priority areas ● chief executives and the perception of
● freedoms and flexibilities versus a libraries
performance framework ● national political advocacy
● library contributions to corporate
agendas
● emerging MLA work on measurement 4.2.2 The second Roundtable was held with
of social outcomes local government practitioners
● leadership issues at national and local /commentators: Nicky Parker,
level Manchester City Council, Michael Stead,
● the nature of community involvement Bolton Council and John Hicks, Library
● issues around volunteering Consultant gave evidence.
● respective roles of DCLG and DCMS
● Swindon and Dudley as working Discussions focused around:
examples ● libraries and the corporate agenda
● renewing/refreshing local library ● officer and member partnership
leadership working
● MLA remit as coherence or weakness ● the role and purpose of national
● dissemination of good practice agencies
● collaborative working
● recruitment and retention
4.2 The second Evidence Session was ● the workforce and leadership
held on 19 May 2009 before, development
● local political engagement and
Lyn Brown MP (Chair) advocacy
Nia Griffith MP ● approaches to service improvement
Anne Snelgrove MP
Lord Tope
4.2.3 The third Roundtable was held with user
representatives: Alan Gibbons, Campaign
4.2.1 The first Roundtable comprised local
government members/Chief executives:
Councillor Andrew Curtin, London
Borough of Havering, Councillor Chris
White, Hertfordshire County Council and
Local Government Association, Mike
More, Chief Executive, Westminster City
Council, and David Ruse, Director of
Libraries at Westminster City Council,
gave evidence.

Discussions focused around:


● localism and political accountability
● the fundamental purpose of public
libraries
● inadequacy of performance
methodologies
● public libraries and the corporate
agenda
● the profession and succession
planning
● the role and purpose of national
agencies
● collaborative working

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for the Book, Desmond Clarke, Kathleen
Frenchman, the Library Campaign gave
evidence.

Discussions focused around:


● user campaigns and perceived service
reductions
● the role of users at local and national
level
● the role of national agencies
● the function of volunteers
● consultation methodologies
● user expectations and assessment
criteria
● performance gaps between library
services
● capturing and disseminating good
practice
● training and development of elected
members

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5. Conclusions : The Six Key Lines of
Enquiry

The information presented to the Inquiry


confirmed our general concerns about the
overall state of public library services in
England and, in particular, issues around
governance and leadership. We heard of a
library sector which has lost a clear sense of
purpose, is perceived by decision makers as
having a relatively low value and which has
consequently lost confidence, status and
direction. A common thread was the general
lack of clarity nationally regarding the core
library offer and the various apparent decision makers, the profession, library users,
accountabilities for leadership. We were trade unions and general stakeholders and
shown a picture of a service which has been commentators. Views were strongly held
in decline for a number of years and which and frequently opposing and are summarised
recently has been the subject of various high in Chapter 3. Overall, the submissions
profile protest campaigns in relation to local presented a bleak national picture with more
examples of alleged statutory contravention. weaknesses than strengths being identified.
These campaigns are a matter of record and
emphasise that this Inquiry is very much a However we were impressed by a number of
matter of public interest and benefit. Indeed, individual local examples of innovation and
this is why CILIP was able to provide financial excellent practice. We were also struck by the
support within the terms of its Charter. passion that the welfare of our public library
services continues to excite among many of
We were able to obtain views from national the politicians and professionals that lead
agencies, local political and executive these services and among the communities

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they serve . These emphasised what local library service since its inception and we
authorities are able to achieve but also believe that the political and operational
highlighted the wide gap in service quality rationale remains valid.
that presently exists.
We therefore recommend that the core
This report provides a web link to the full public library service should continue
written submissions and the full transcripts to be free at the point of delivery.
from the evidence sessions and provides
headline summaries of both. For the sake of Throughout the Inquiry, we heard about a
brevity, we do not rehearse those arguments need for greater clarity and
again in these conclusions but would understanding. This appeared to apply
commend the detailed responses which are across all areas – ranging across clarity
available at www.cilip.org.uk/appg of overall national vision, uncertainty
about intervention triggers, the need for a
more precise definition of a
5.1 The strengths and weaknesses of the “comprehensive and efficient service”,
present system the obscure purpose of the ACL, the
inadequate definition of National Indicator
We noted the almost universal agreement 9 and the division of library responsibility
from all sectors around three key issues. between Government departments and
Firstly, in relation to democratic many more. We were concerned that this
accountability we heard a convincing lack of clarity was expressed repeatedly
rationale throughout the Inquiry for by experienced library practitioners as
service delivery remaining with local well as external commentators.
authorities despite the clear need to drive
up standards in many library services. It appears to us that a communications
strategy is required to cover two key
We endorse this view and recommend strands. Firstly, there is an evident need
that local authorities should continue to clarify present practices and
to carry responsibility and accountabilities to the existing library
accountability for the provision of community and secondly, a consumer
public library services in their area. facing campaign with a focus on potential
audiences who currently underuse library
Secondly, a statutory framework was services.
broadly supported although we heard
strong views that the degree of We therefore recommend that the MLA
prescription should be minimised. We (or LDAE see 5.5. below) should
agree that the application of statute is commission a mid term
hampered by lack of clarity about what communications strategy for the
constitutes reasonable customer public library service in England and
expectation or entitlement. programme its implementation
accordingly.
We therefore recommend that the
application of The Public Libraries Act
1964 should be clarified by a definition 5.2 The role of local communities in
of the minimum level of service (or decision-making
core service) to be expected by
customers. This Inquiry was carried out at a time
when a number of high profile anti closure
Thirdly, the core service as defined campaigns were taking place and these
should be free at the point of delivery. were often referred to in written
This has been the keystone of the public submissions and the evidence sessions.

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It seemed to us that libraries have the endorse the caveat that user groups and
potential to develop real social capital volunteers should not merely be used as
through the empowerment of local a response to budgetary constraints or as
communities in local decision making an attempt to avoid statutory obligations.
processes.
We therefore recommend that the use
Although the desirability of greater of volunteers should be positively
involvement by local communities in encouraged to form part of the
library decision making was accepted as customer offer but not as a substitute
virtually self evident, there was concern for core service provision.
expressed by some respondents that this
should not be detrimental to the general We also recommend that local
perception of libraries as neutral ground. authorities should publish a code of
We heard of the need to improve library practice in relation to the use of
connections with existing local volunteers which should include
governance arrangements such as local practical support arrangements
strategic partnerships and community regarding hours, training, expenses,
forums so that local diversity is reflected. meal arrangements and police
checks etc.
It became clear that customer
information and engagement activities
vary widely. Some emerging work 5.3 Superintendence of the public library
makes innovative use of a wide range of service by central government
traditional and contemporary techniques We received submissions that
but we feel that this is very much the underscored the continuing conflict of
exception rather than the rule. views between those seeking
prescription, standards and an inspection
We therefore recommend that local regime, as opposed to those seeking
authorities should publish a code of freedom of action with local
customer engagement giving a clear accountability via the ballot box alone.
methodology for informing, consulting Given the present confused picture, there
and involving their users and non- seemed to us to be a need for advice,
users in the planning of service guidance and clarification rather than
provision undue prescription.

We were impressed by the commitment We also supported the majority view that
and sustained stamina shown by certain powers of intervention should be retained
user groups and believe that there is by the Secretary of State but should be
potential for a more positive and used only in extremis. Again,
structured approach to their clarification should be provided about the
development. Although user groups are circumstances that are likely to prompt
often formed only when a local campaign intervention.
is mounted, others are formed as a
constructive joint arrangement between a Superintendence need not be a negative
library and its client base and we believe matter given sufficient clarity of process
they can carry out a valuable quality but we return again to the issue of
control function as “critical friend”. unclear accountabilities.

Similarly, we believe that library We therefore recommend that the


volunteers could play a far more positive powers of intervention should be
role as part of a core service offer and retained by the Secretary of State and
are currently an underused resource. We be underpinned by clear guidance on

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the current definition of “a Irrespective of provider we believe there
comprehensive and efficient service”. is a need to promote and develop
training and development programmes
for public library personnel in order to
5.4 The role of local authorities in the improve management, leadership and
provision of public library services corporate governance skills. This appears
to be a particular issue in the public
In 5.1 above we concluded that local library service and the demographic
authorities should retain responsibility for profile of senior staff highlights a need to
the delivery of public library services. address succession planning as a matter
However, within this national asset of of urgency. We heard that take up of
around 4,500 library service points there places on generic leadership schemes
is a huge gap between the good and the has been relatively low from the sector.
poor perfomers. There are few local
leadership voices and little dissemination We recommend that the MLA (or LDAE
of best practice. This reinforces, in our see below) should commission training
view, the need for a designated national and development programmes for
organisation to encourage and support public library personnel to improve
local innovation. management, leadership and
corporate governance skills.
Retaining ownership and accountability
for library services should not inhibit
innovation in the mechanics of service 5.5 The respective governance and
delivery. We heard of interesting new leadership roles of national agencies
developments involving the establishment
of Trusts and various operational Frankly, we found the extent of confusion
consortia. There is still much potential and uncertainty in relation to the national
for developing partnerships and agencies to be quite remarkable. We
collaborations, notably around shared heard examples of individuals at board
back office functions. We noted that level struggling to clarify the role and
these often result in outcomes that purpose of their own organisations. This
combine financial savings with an lack of clear accountability resulted in
enhanced customer product. national leaders focusing attention on
weaknesses in local authorities whereas
We recommend that local authorities local authorities highlighted weaknesses
should be encouraged to further in national leadership and advocacy.
develop collaborative arrangements
with particular emphasis on the The key issue raised regarding
provision of back office services. governance confusion was the continuing
division between DCLG funding and
Delivery options as part of a diverse DCMS responsibilities and many
commissioning regime also merit further submissions highlighted that the
detailed exploration and we heard of some confusion around leadership and
early work in this regard. Indeed, this is a governance emanates from this uncertain
matter of common practice by many other starting point. The matter of precisely
local government services. However, if where ultimate accountability resides is of
library leaders are to embrace this culture, relatively little consequence and we heard
they must be confident of corporate a number of options rehearsed. The
priorities, clear on agreed outcomes and important point is that national political
be prepared to adopt a radical approach accountability should sit in one place
to partnership development. only.

22
We therefore recommend that both considered a number of possible options
funding and responsibilities for the for change that were submitted. These
public library service should come included the division of the MLA into a
together within a single Government separate body for libraries and another
Department as a matter of urgency. for museums with archives. Another
option involved the reconfiguration of the
There was a widely held view that the existing MLA structures in order to clarify
ACL should be disbanded as a move and extend its library remit. We also took
towards simplifying the library landscape. account of the criticism of the existing
Advocates of this course of action confusing arrangements whereby a
included a former Chair of ACL. Indeed divided Government accountability is
we were advised that a decision in combined with the tripartite functions of
principle to disband the ACL had been the MLA.
taken in the recent past but not
implemented due to lack of parliamentary Various proposals were received for the
time. Consequently, the ACL continues to establishment of some form of Library
meet on an occasional basis but fails to Development Agency that could address
meet some basic obligations, such as the the key issues of advocacy, leadership
production of an Annual Report. and innovation. We believe that, with
certain safeguards, this could be an
Whilst agreeing that the ACL is not effective way forward. A Development
currently fit for purpose, we are of the Agency should be an independent
view nevertheless that it retains a organisation led by a partnership board
potential benefit for the Secretary of which incorporates Government, local
State to obtain independent advice authority and user interests and private
directly from the various groupings of the sector expertise. It should be tightly
practising library community. focused and of light touch. It should not
seek to acquire large numbers of
We therefore recommend that the role, permanent staff nor funds to merely
membership and business programme perpetuate itself. Cross sector working is
of the ACL should be reviewed and an important aspect of library provision
then be articulated via appropriate which we would encourage but public
dissemination and promotion, library renewal requires, above all, an
including the maintenance of a absolute clarity of purpose.
website and the publication of an
Annual Report. We therefore recommend that a
Library Development Agency for
We acknowledge that the MLA is England (LDAE) should be established,
confident that it can improve its inter alia, to:
performance in relation to libraries
despite its financial constraints and there ● advocate for public libraries
is a view that it should be given time to ● articulate a national vision
allow its new approaches to be tested. ● establish marketing, awareness and
However, others told us that its split promotional programmes
responsibilities make focused library ● disseminate good practice
advocacy impossible. There is a clear ● establish a comprehensive evidence
conflict between those wishing to base
integrate the three MLA functions in a ● facilitate quality improvements
way that removes traditional professional
silos and those who believe that a In the light of the above we
sufficient public library focus is recommend that the role, function and
unachievable because of the MLA’s funding of the MLA should be adjusted
constitutional constraints. We accordingly.

23
5.6 The extent of requirements for change The learning, literacy and information
needs of the UK necessitate a resurgent
The status quo was recommended by public library service rather than a service
no-one as an option and we believe that that has rather lost its way. We believe
changes are urgently required if public that the true benefits of a comprehensive
library services in England are to achieve and efficient service are too great to be
their undoubted potential. Their lost or diminished and we present these
continuing relevance was highlighted on findings in this context.
a number of occasions and we heard, for
example, of how library usage is 5.7 In conclusion, we are grateful to all
increasing in some areas in direct contributors to this Inquiry which has
response to the current economic considered matters of significant
recession. national and local importance and our
recommendations are submitted as a
We believe that public libraries are very positive contribution to the public
much the service of the future and not library debate currently underway. We
just of the past. We have proposed that also acknowledge with thanks the
the apparent governance clutter should assistance of our advisers and support
be simplified with one lead national voice teams.
for libraries, a national vision which is
clearly articulated and reasonable
customer expectations defined. We have
reaffirmed some basic tenets.

24
Appendix 6.1

Individuals and Organisations Providing Written Submissions

The full written submissions are available at www.cilip.org.uk/appg

Cllr Mike Amesbury/ Executive Member, Arts and Leisure,


Nicky Parker Head of Library and Information Services
Manchester City Council

Neil Anderson/ Head of Services for Leisure, Culture and Heritage

Martin Gaw Head of Libraries, Heritage and Learning,


Warrington Borough Council

Patricia Blackshire Interim Head of Arts, Culture and Libraries,


London Borough of Hillingdon

Helen Brazier Co-ordinator, Share the Vision

Norman Briggs Consultant, P&C Intelligence

The British Library

Helen Carpenter Adviser, Reading and Libraries Challenge Fund,


Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Roy Clare Chief Executive, The Museums, Libraries and


Archives Council

Desmond Clarke

Mike Clarke Head of Libraries, Information and Community


Learning, London Borough of Camden

Tim Coates

Patrick Conway

Kevin Crompton Chief Executive, Luton Borough Council

Cllr Andrew Curtin Cabinet Member, Culture and Communities,


London Borough of Havering

Guy Daines Director, Policy and Advocacy, CILIP

P R E Double City Remembrancer and Parliamentary Agent to


The City of London

Leona Eley Senior Project Officer, Chief Executive’s Office


London Borough of Lambeth

Elizabeth Elford Public Libraries Advocacy Manager, Society of


Chief Librarians

25
Mark Freeman Libraries Manager, South Tyneside Council

Graham Gatehouse Suffolk County Council

Alan Gibbons The Campaign for the Book

Cllr Heather Goddard Executive Councillor, Communities, South


Gloucestershire Council

Sarah Godowski Bisset Adams

Jane Hall Assistant Head of Culture and Tourism –


Libraries, Heritage and Events, Community and
Cultural Services, Sunderland City Council

Ian Harrison Director - Transport, Environment and Culture


Devon County Council

Paul Hart Managing Director, Doncaster Metropolitan


Borough Council

Frances Hendrix

John Hicks Kentwood Associates

John Hughes Library and Information Manager, London


Borough of Lewisham

Graham Jarritt Borough Librarian, Hartlepool Borough Libraries

Gill Johnson Retired Librarian and former Head of Service

Kathy Johnson/ Head of Libraries

David Parry/ Chief Officer for Public Affairs

Cllr Wally Ashcroft Portfolio Executive Member, St. Helen’s Council

Phil Jones

Alan Kent

Geoff Langridge

Paul Leivers Head of Cultural Services, Dorset County Council

Dr. John McEwan Friends of Lambeth Libraries

Miranda McKearney, OBE Director, The Reading Agency Ltd

Sue McKenzie Head of Libraries, Arts and Heritage, London


Borough of Brent

John Marsden North Yorkshire County Council

26
Janice Maskort/ Head of Libraries, Archives and Information

Sylvia Dunkley Cabinet member for Streetscene, Culture and


Leisure, Sheffield City Council

Martin Molloy, OBE Strategic Director, Culture and Community


Services, Derbyshire County Council

Fiona O’Brien

Stephen Page/ representing the publishers in the Adult Reading


Amanda Ridout Partners consortium

David Patten Head of Library Services, Derby City Council

John Pateman

Tom Pike Head of Libraries, Museums, and Local Studies


(Interim), Resources, London Borough of Barnet

Peter Richardson The Users and Friends of Manor House Library

Antonio Rizzo Service Development Manager, Lewisham Library


and Information Service

Simon Robson Head of Local Provider Services, Warwickshire


County Council

B. A. Rowland Acting Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council

David Ruse Director of Libraries, Westminster City Council

Steve Skelton Business Manager, Regeneration & Transport/


Culture, Tourism and Sport, Local Government
Association

Andrew Smith Chief Executive, Hampshire County Council

Jonathan Stephens Permanent Secretary, DCMS

Bryony Taylor Strategy and Policy Advisor, Strategy and Business


Development Directorate, Lifelong Learning UK

Graham Turner Chief Executive Officer, North Somerset Council

Heather Wakefield National Secretary, Unison, Local Government


Service Group

Sir Robin Wales Mayor, London Borough of Newham

Glenda Wood Head of Libraries, Culture and Learning,


Hertfordshire County Council

27
Appendix 6.2

Witnesses attending hearings

The full transcripts are available at www.cilip.org.uk/appg

Marion Boston Unison

Roy Clare Chief Executive, MLA

Desmond Clarke Formerly Chair of Libri and President and CEO of


Thomson Publishing Services Group

Tim Coates Public libraries observer and commentator

Councillor Andrew Curtin Cabinet Member, Culture and Communities,


London Borough of Havering

Astra Farquharson, Senior Parliamentary and Stakeholder Relations


Officer,
MLAGraham Fisher Chief Executive of Toynbee Hall and formerly Chief
executive of MLA London

Kathleen Frenchman Chairman, the Library Campaign

Alan Gibbons The Campaign for the Book

John Hicks Library Consultant, Kentwood Associates

Charlotte Holloway New Local Government Network

Mike More Chief Executive, Westminster City Council

David Murray Divisional Director for Community and Customer


Services, London Borough of Newham

Nicky Parker Head of Library and Information Services,


Manchester City Council

David Ruse Director of Libraries, Westminster City Council

Michael Stead Bolton Council

Councillor Chris White Chair of the Culture, Tourism and Sport Board,
Local Government Association and Hertfordshire
County Council

Sue Wilkinson, Director of Policy, MLA

28
Appendix 6.3

Abbreviations

ACL Advisory Council for Libraries

BERR Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory


Reform

BL The British Library

BSF Building Schools for the Future

CILIP Chartered Institute of Library and Information


Professionals

CIPFA Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

DCLG Department of Communities and Local Government

DCSF Department of Children, Schools and Families

DCMS Department of Culture, Media and Sport

DIUS Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills

DOH Department of Health

LAA Local Area Agreement

LDAE Library Development Agency for England (proposed)

LGA Local Government Association

LLDA London Library Development Agency

MLA Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

NDPB Non-departmental Public Body

NI9 National Indicator 9 (use of public libraries by adults)

NLT National Literacy Trust

PCT Primary Care Trust

PI Performance Indicator

RFID Radio Frequency Identification

SCL Society of Chief Librarians

29
NOTES

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31
32