Headlines: August 3rd, 2005

Library managers have been challenged to a three year reform program following publication of the Select Committee Report on public libraries. See Publicnet 29 July ‘public libraries could have single agency to buy books.’ The call for reform has come from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council which is the lead strategic body for museums, libraries and archives.The Councils’ vision is that core functions of the public library should be expanded and reinterpreted through exciting initiatives to make reading accessible and relevant to all, and through the use of new technologies to improve access to learning and information for everyone 24 hours a day. It believes that public libraries can be powerful catalysts for cultural and social change.

There is concern that library users should receive a comprehensive, high-quality service available at times convenient to them. To properly reflect community demand opening hours need to be extended. Just as shopping hours now extend into the evening and throughout the weekend, library managers are urged to look how better access can be provided.

Because of the growing importance of on-line information and the impact this can have on those who have no personal access to the Internet, the Council wants all libraries to provide free Broadband access.

The Council is leading work on the development of public library standards, impact measures and Comprehensive Performance Assessment. It is also collaborating with the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Audit Commission and the Improvement and Development Agency to improve the effectiveness of libraries.