GENERAL ELECTION – WHO SHOULD GET THE PUBLIC LIBRARY VOTE?

Extract on public libraries from CILIP’s analysis of the various manifestos, covering all areas of publishing & libraries  are at https://www.cilip.org.uk/news/i-have-promises-keep

Labour has made a number of above-the-line policy commitments to support public libraries including:

“Libraries are vital social assets, valued by communities across the country. We will ensure libraries are preserved for future generations and updated with wi-fi and computers to meet modern needs. We will reintroduce library standards so that government can assess and guide councils in delivering the best possible service.”

CILIP has welcomed this twin emphasis on strengthening and modernising the core library service as ‘vital social assets’ and on re-introducing standards as an effective way to correct the deficiencies of the Public Libraries Act.

We also welcome the recognition of libraries as important ‘3rd spaces’ in the Womens Equality Party Manifesto:

“The tunnel vision of our economy renders women and their contribution invisible. It fails to see the value of anything that cannot immediately be monetised; the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our green spaces. It views libraries as prime real estate for redevelopment, rather than community hubs, spaces to meet and read and learn or simply sit quietly.”

The Conservative Manifesto, on the other hand, clearly signals the continued emphasis on devolution:

“This Conservative government has devolved more power to English local authorities, closer to local people, than any previous government in over a century: across England, newly elected mayors, combined authorities, local councils and local enterprise partnerships are being empowered to improve local growth and public services. We will continue to give local government greater control over the money they raise and address concerns about the fairness of current funding distributions.”

Unfortunately, a continuation of austerity would almost certainly mean that some councils continue to explore the transfer of library services to ‘volunteer-led’ models, thereby exacerbating the existing postcode lottery of provision.

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