Friday, March 03, 2006

From the Website of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister comes the text of this speech made by Phil Woolas MP to the All-party Parliamentary Group on Libraries last month. Its worth reading for two or three reasons - firstly because it acknowledges that one reason for the decline in library book-borrowing might result from halving the amount of money spent on buying books for libraries. (Still no mention of the number of closures of Library service points, however.) Secondly the ominous mention of "practical new models of delivery" and "community management of local libraries" - how long before the idea of "Library Trusts" surfaces? The "Trust" model has just been floated for Museums. There are also references to a significant contribution from Libraries towards the DCMS target of £146m in "efficiency savings" over the next three years. Sounding a positive note there is praise for "Idea Stores" - although as usual little recognition that a key factor behind the success of "Idea Stores" is the input of considerable chunks of funding - the evidence shows that traditional libraries also do better if they are refurbished and have a wide range of new books. I'm not against the ideas stores model if it attracts people into Libraries, but there are many aspects of the traditional library model which need to be kept - as I've said before Libraries are too important to leave to the politicians!