Ministers Don't Understand Libraries Say Officials, Amid Mass Closures

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Officials have attacked the government for failing to protect libraries
Officials have attacked the government for failing to protect libraries

Officials have attacked the government for failing to support libraries - amid accusations that ministers don't understand exactly what it is they do.

Annie Mauger, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said “policy-makers don’t understand the role of the librarian [and libraries]”.

This comes after the culture, media and sport committee began an inquiry into library closures.

Speaking to MPs, Mauger singled out culture secretary Jeremy Hunt for failing to protect libraries from being closed.

“Where the secretary of state has not seen fit to intervene at the moment [in judicial reviews], local authorities have felt able to continue with unacceptable reductions.”

“It’d be very strange if society didn’t value its knowledge professions” she added.

Mauger complained that the government had not set out the remit for libraries. She called for the culture secretary to set out a “framework for what library services should be delivering”. This lack of clarity in the role of libraries left them “in the eye of the storm”.

And she dismissed the “mythology” that libraries were “utterly in decline”.

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, complained about the pressure libraries were facing. He told MPs that they had “little breathing space” and were facing difficulties in carrying out their work. He said “you need to look at the whole library service, and how it is configured”.

Davey revealed that there are untapped sources of money available to libraries. "Libraries aren’t applying to them because they never knew that they could" he said.

Elizabeth Campbell, councillor for Kensington & Chelsea, attacked authorities for closing libraries. “If they think libraries are an easy target, then they have got another thing coming” she said.

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