The UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has just announced the completion of its submission to the panel chaired by “philanthropist, entrepreneur and publisher William Sieghart” tasked with producing an “independent report on England’s public library service.” And the announcement warns that: “the current service is in England is becoming a ‘postcode lottery’ and a patchwork of provision is evolving depending on where you live.”
CILIP is obviously deeply concerned about the de facto retreat from established – and statutory – obligations for free and universal library services in the UK. “The government must identify a roadmap for the future of public libraries in England. Library Services are needed as much as ever, but their purpose is changing,” Martyn Wade, Chair of CILIP Council, said. “Library practitioners are passionate about what they do and understand that the world is changing. We need to establish the role of libraries in society afresh through meaningful national debate.”
CILIP asks “that a key set of entitlements for communities and individuals is identified, with an outcome-based evaluation model,” as well as “for research into the current and potential social and economic role of libraries and a national debate with leading thinkers and economists sharing views to inform the future.” Wade also urges an actual dialog, rather than piecemeal local-level action with implicit central government sanction, on the role of community and volunteer libraries in England. “The growth of community managed libraries risks a two tier service being developed. We believe there should be an honest discussion about what is happening with the use of volunteers in the delivery of library services and research into the impact on communities.”
For those interested, the full CILIP submission is available here.