Government considering abolishing the requirement for “comprehensive and efficient library service”

News from national library advocacy group Voices for the Library:

The government have launched a review of statutory duties placed on local government.

According to the Communities and Local Government website:

….the Government is carrying out a wide ranging review to establish the duties which are no longer needed and to remove them, giving local authorities freedom to operate in a way that meets local needs and priorities.

Amongst these statutory duties are three specifically relating to libraries:


Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 1(2)

Duty: To provide information and facilities for the inspection of library premises, stocks, records, as the Secretary of State requires.

Function: Necessary for Secretary of State to fulfil (requirement) to superintend library service (see s1 of PLAMA 1964)


Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 7

Duty: To provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. In fulfilling this duty, must have particular regard to the matters in s7(2)

Function: Secure provision of local library services


Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 Section 11

Duty: Supplemental provisions as to transfers of officers, assets and liabilities

Function: 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

The removal of these statutory duties puts libraries in very real danger and could mean that councils across the country will be permitted to close libraries without fear of censure from the government.

The review lasts until 25th April 2011.  It is absolutely vital that as many people as possible take part in the consultation and have their say.  If not, it could be used to remove crucial protection for your local library service.

To take part in the consultation, please complete the Statutory Duties webform here.

We cannot stress enough how important your participation in this review is.  Please complete the online form and tell as many people as possible.  You will need to comment on each duty individually, and enter its reference number into the form (for example DCMS_27).

We have six weeks in which to send the government a strong message about our public library service.  Let’s make sure they hear all of our voices.

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