Urgent: Write to the DCMS

THE DCMS (Department for Culture, Media & Sport) is to investigate Lambeth’s library service very soon. PLEASE WRITE to the civil servant in charge: simon.richardson@culture.gov.uk
He will be interested in the service being offered now, as much as the promises being made about the future. His guide is the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act.
 
Here is out guide to key parts of the legislation and points to make:
The important bit is section 7. 
The law says:

7 General duty of library authorities

(1) It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof…

We say:

Unfortunately in England there is no legal definition of ‘comprehensive & efficient’. But 6 planned libraries and 4 not-libraries-at-all for a population of 318,000 and growing,  and with major loss of service in deprived areas, doesn’t look ‘comprehensive’.

The crazy use of funds on gyms, security guards, doubtful community trusts, faux consultations, specious propaganda et al doesn’t look ‘efficient’ – and nor does the exclusion of all library managers from the entire process of culture2020 from its very start to the current chaos.  Its also clear that the current closures are depriving a lot of people desirous to use their own libraries – especially the young families, schoolkids, older people etc who can’t realistically get to other libraries.   Do mention the Minet Library whose Coldharbour ward is an area of deprivation.

The rest of section 7 continues:

…. and for that purpose to employ such officers, to provide and maintain such buildings and equipment, and such books and other materials, and to do such other things, as may be requisite: Provided that although a library authority shall have power to make facilities for the borrowing of books and other materials available to any persons it shall not by virtue of this subsection be under a duty to make such facilities available to persons other than those whose residence or place of work is within the library area of the authority or who are undergoing full-time education within that area.

(2)  In fulfilling its duty under the preceding subsection, a library authority shall in particular have regard to the desirability—

(a) of securing, by the keeping of adequate stocks, by arrangements with other library authorities, and by any other appropriate means, that facilities are available for the borrowing of, or reference to, books and other printed matter,  and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials, sufficient in number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children; and

(b) of encouraging both adults and children to make full use of the library service, and of providing advice as to its use and of making available such bibliographical and other information as may be required by persons using it; and

(c) of securing, in relation to any matter concerning the functions both of the library authority as such and any other authority whose functions are exercisable within the library area, that there is full co-operation between the persons engaged in carrying out those functions.

We say:

Clearly it is questionable whether the neighbourhood libraries will have ‘adequate stocks’ of books plus CDs, DVDs etc.  They will not not be providing advice, and will not be encouraging children and adults to use the service. We can cite the issue over unaccompanied under 16s.

Please feel free to make your own points as well.

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