Author Topic: Public Libraries | Westminster Hall debates  (Read 930 times)

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Offline Fido

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Public Libraries | Westminster Hall debates
« on: September 08, 2010, 11:00:54 am »
Public Libraries | Westminster Hall debates
7 September 2010, 3:30 pm

My hon. Friend makes two points in her helpful intervention, and I will come on to speak about revamping and modernising the library service. The campaigns that my hon. Friend was involved in highlighted how important community libraries are to local councils. I attended lots of meetings, and I remember one attended by more people than there were active users of the library service. I told them that they should take a few more books out.

The trend in library closures needs to change because with each closure, a community is deprived of a key service. However, as with all areas of the public sector, it is important to recognise that savings to the public budget are necessary and that difficult decisions must be made by local authorities. In that context, libraries have the challenge of improving customer services while reducing costs. The Minister will be pleased to know that I am not calling for an increase in spending on public libraries, but rather for a revamp of the way that libraries are run so as to ensure that they are viable and fit for purpose for future generations.

Changes must be made to the way that library services are delivered so as to encourage customers to use them. Public use of libraries is in decline, which was shown in the 2010 Taking Part report, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and published last month. The report shows that since 2005-06, there has been an overall downward trend in the number of adults visiting public libraries in England across all adult age categories and socio-demographic groups. Only 39.4% of adults surveyed said they had visited a public library over the past year, compared with over 48% of adults five years ago.

Reading figures, however, are not declining, and the same report shows an increase in the number of people who read for pleasure. Over 65% of adults surveyed read for pleasure and of those, 80% had done so over the past week. In addition, book sales have grown. With the popularity of books such as "Harry Potter" and the "Twilight" series, annual figures from Nielsen BookScan show that children's book sales in 2009 increased by nearly 5% on the previous year.

Such figures suggest that the problem lies in the services offered by libraries. Numerous surveys have shown that the public want good choice, convenient opening hours and a pleasant environment from their local library. However, many libraries do not provide a service that attracts a significant proportion of the reading population. There is a market for libraries, but they must improve their ability to attract readers. Libraries should provide a useful professional service and an environment in which people want to be. They must do their job properly and adapt to what the public want and need, in order to ensure that they remain and are embraced by communities.

Source: Justin Tomlinson's recent appearances (TheyWorkForYou)


Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Public Libraries | Westminster Hall debates
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2010, 11:34:06 am »

Ooh.... so much material here and so little time.

*note to self: Come back to this in 10 days time.

Offline Drone

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Re: Public Libraries | Westminster Hall debates
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2010, 04:05:09 pm »
Yep, it's all Libraries' fault. Not repeated political interference or cut backs.

Quote
In that context, libraries have the challenge of improving customer services while reducing costs. The Minister will be pleased to know that I am not calling for an increase in spending on public libraries, but rather for a revamp of the way that libraries are run so as to ensure that they are viable and fit for purpose for future generations.

'More for less' seems to be the govt's unofficial slogan. They like cutting funding, but don't see any connection with reducing services to local people. Sorry, 'customers'.
derp derp herp herp derp

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Public Libraries | Westminster Hall debates
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2010, 07:00:05 pm »
Does Justin's vision fit with current SBC policy?

or is this a softening up process?

 

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