Produced in consultation with thousands of library supporters from across the country, the following outlines what we believe the public library service should provide:
- A wide-ranging, quality book stock available to borrow without charge.
- Up-to-date ICT that is available to access free of charge and without restrictions, supplemented by support from trained staff.
- Access to ebooks remotely and without charge.
- A wide-range of quality online services at no charge.
- A space free from commercial influence.
- Dedicated services for teens.
- A service managed by professionals that allows for greater freedom for staff to enhance the service.
- Volunteer opportunities but only as a support to paid staff, not as a substitute.
- Library buildings that provide a modern, welcoming space.
- A service owned by the public, not private companies or a sub-section of the community.
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All of this is motherhood and apple pie. How could anyone disagree with it? The real question, and the one you fail to provide an answer to, is how is it going to be paid for? In case you hadn’t noticed EVERY single political party is committed to austerity, which means that there is going to be less money for libraries. So, if you want anyone to pay you any attention at all you need to answer that question, or else you are just wasting your time.
Hi Fave. Many thanks for your comments. The manifesto above was produced after asking library users, supporters and workers what they think a modern library service should provide. The list above is a rationalisation of the list that emerged from that engagement. We feel that it is neither our responsibility, nor would it be sensible, to have also asked all of those people to produce a spending plan for the national government for the next five years (not least because central government does not directly fund public libraries, it is down to the local authority to divide up the government grants as they see fit).
To reiterate the point, we are a public library advocacy campaign, not representative of a shadow cabinet for libraries. It is our aim to set out core principles that we, and millions of library users, subscribe to. This website and our organisation’s intention is to provide a platform for what people believe in about the public library service. It is up to all the political parties to listen to what people want from their local library service, and to set out their stall and funding plans accordingly. Should we find ourselves in a position to stand for parliament, you can rest assured we will answer that question. For now, however, you will have to accept that this is a platform for library users, not for government office.
To your manifesto I would add need for study space. Not all study is computer-based.
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An excellent statement of the functions which public libraries should prioritize. The only thing I might add is a commitment to ensuring that the services provided by public libraries are accessible to the 11 million UK citizens who are disabled.
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Libraries will need to change but that doesn’t mean that they should be axed. Libraries are more than their services (which are crucial) they are also a central part of the community, remove them and quickly the heart of towns and villages and cities start to disappear.
They will need to join with family centres and advice centres and education centre but take Birmingham Library as an example which appeals and caters to all of the city. They can save money by working with schools, community organisation and then moving with the digital age not in confrontation with it.
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How about co-housing libraries with post offices…..I think the combo of the two would make ideal community hubs