March 10, 2005

Parliamentary review of Public Libraries

The UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Libraries has now published its findings, it is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmcumeds/81/81i.pdf
The background evidence is available in a separate report: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmcumeds/81/81ii.pdf

Whilst giving credit where it is due, it identifies the patchy nature of library provision in the UK and lack of clear focus and priorities across all services:
We regard a situation in which core performance indicators, and gross throughput, are falling—but overall costs are rising—as a signal of a service in distress.

Our key recommendations are designed to focus attention on libraries' fundamental role in promoting reading and we seek to distinguish clearly between core functions and desirable add-ons (prioritising resources in favour of the former). There need to be far stronger links between national library standards (which themselves need improving) and effective mechanisms to encourage and enable library services to meet, if not surpass, them.

I'm sure this will provoke considerable debate!

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