January 8, 2011
Persons desiring to make use of the public library service
People often write at length about the possible meanings of the words 'comprehensive' and 'efficient' as they occur in the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act. They aren't difficult words, even for a small cat, but they do seem to cause terrible difficulty among those who are responsible.
Councils and even state officials from bodies like the MLA refer to the word 'effiicient' and nudge and wink quietly to each other saying that it would be much more 'efficient' if we only had a few large libraries, and that would satisfy the requirements of the Act and all the statutory responsibilities it carries
However there is a deal of correspondence circulating about ways to test the Act and Perkins took the trouble to read it carefully again. It doesn't say that the public library authorities should provide an efficient service.... it says that public library authorities should provide an efficient service for those who desire to make use of one. In other words if it is inefficient for a user to travel 5 miles on the bus- or less efffcient than a current arrangement in which there is a small local library- , then the authority isn't doing what the Act asks of it.
This battle is far from over.
Incidentally it isn't just local authorities who, for years have been trying quietly to argue that we can do without hundreds of small local libraries, Roy Clare and the MLA say it all the time and so indeed have CILIP and the SCL, unless they want to deny it quickly.
Where is the statutory Advisory Council on Public Libraries while all this is going on? Perkins found lots of references to that in her reading of The Act. It is hard to agree with senior figures who write to The Times protesting that nobody is ignoring The Act when they and others are certainly turning a blind eye to that bit of it.
Posted by Perkins at January 8, 2011 2:31 PM
I'd say that the battle is more or less over. Local authorities have no choice but to make cuts (let's ignore your efficiency arguments for the time being). The interpretation of 'Comprehensive' and 'Efficient' is open to debate and can only be tested in the courts. So do you Perkins or your owner feel confident enought to make the legal challenge?
Posted by: Gary Marks at January 9, 2011 4:42 PM
Yes, Gary, that's what we are ready for.
Posted by: Perkins at January 9, 2011 8:31 PM
Thank you for your post Tim, it is just what the doctor ordered, I'm involved with trying to save one such small library at the moment:
Save Woolton Library
I've worked in this library in the past, it has a very good manager, is small but used, and very much appreciated by the community - but it is looking like they may be faced with having to take it over as a volunteer run library if they want to keep it, which nobody wants.
I think at this point the thing to do is try and find out how much less people will be inclined to use the library service if their local library were to go, on account of the extra time, effort and resources otherwise they would need, which would maybe prove that the Council were not providing an efficient enough service for people to use.
Posted by: Library Web at March 12, 2011 2:20 AM