While people up and down the country are campaigning to protect library services, central Government has launched a review of legal duties that 'may create unnecessary burdens' on local authorities - including the duty to provide a 'comprehensive and efficient' library service. The public can comment on the review, and it's vital that we let the Government know that legal protection for libraries is essential.
Currently, the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 says public libraries are a statutory service. Local authorities have a duty to provide libraries and promote them, and may not charge people to use a library or to borrow books. Where changes to a library service could be illegal, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a duty to step in.
But this week the Government launched a review of 1,294 statutory duties placed on local government, asking the public to tell them which legal duties are 'burdensome or no longer needed'. Among the hundreds of duties under review are three relating to library provision:
- The duty to provide information and facilities for the inspection of library premises, stocks, records, as the Secretary of State requires (reference number DCMS_026)
- The duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service (reference number DCMS_027)
- Supplemental provisions as to transfers of officers, assets and liabilities (this provides, for example, continuity of employment for transferring employees) (reference number DCMS_028)