What I want to say:
• reflect on the conference themes:
• current politics;
• budget challenges;
• scope for service innovation;
• the importance of place;
• the public library ‘offer’;
• the Library Service as part of the overall
• and how we demonstrate to politicians and
funders the importance of public libraries.
The UK political agenda
• the priority is to reduce the budget deficit;
• this has resulted in serious budget
reductions generally, including for local
• each local council is having to reassess its
• health or libraries?
• tough choices.
UK Public Libraries
• a statutory service;
• locally funded and managed;
• central government has powers but is
• lack of national vision/leadership;
• service quality varies across the country;
• each library service governed by local
• 7.5% reduction in revenue budgets;
• 10% reduction in book funds;
• 10% of posts lost in the last year....with a
further 11% lost over the previous 5 years;
• the increasing use of volunteers;
• 33% of Councils are reducing their mobile
But is it a crisis?
• 4125 library sites – a network to die for;
• 321,546,000 visits (5.2 per person);
• 12,079,000 active members.
• "We need libraries most during recessions." The
Providence Journal, July 29, 2011.
• Libraries Shine In Tough Economic Times NPR
broadcast, All Things Considered, July 29, 2008.
• "As economy struggles, more people rely on libraries," By
Terry Date. Eagle Tribune, February 19, 2008
• Libraries report increased use of e-government, job resource
- 6/21/10 press release for ALA's Libraries Connect
Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology
Access Study 2009-2010.
and the economy
• business information;
• employment information;
• work clubs;
• computers and CVs.
• an equal service;
• digital inclusion;
• much more than reading books;
• where else is there free, quality and
safe public space?
• and a sense of place and history.
The Value, Impact and Potential of public library
“Libraries matter to people! Even those who
don’t use them regularly care about what
happens to them because they recognise what
they stand for; that they exist to ensure that
everyone has access to the knowledge,
scholarship, books and information they need to
help them enjoy and make a success of their
lives”. [The great and the good].
So, in summary:
• huge budget challenges;
• these challenges will continue;
• the messages to politicians:
– libraries provide good value;
– supporting the economy and employment;
– social and digital inclusion;
– culture, place and learning;
– libraries help politicians deliver their priorities;
The real danger for residents
and politicians with library
cuts is that more is lost than
This joint statement about the value placed on library services by the public, is supported by a wide range of bodies and organisations including The Society of Authors, the Royal Society of Literature, the Campaign for the Book, Public Lending Right, the Booksellers Association, Voices for the Library, The Chartered institute of Library and Information Professionals, The Society of Chief Librarians, The Publishers Association, The Reading Agency, Unison, The Association of Authors' Agents and The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council