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Hodge asks: should library authorities merge?
16.03.10 | Benedicte Page
Culture minister Margaret Hodge has questioned the affordability of having 151 separate library authorities, in a debate on libraries held on last night's "Newsnight" (BBC2). Hodge, who said that the long-awaited DCMS Library Review would be published next week, confirmed there were no plans to change the statutory status of libraries.
But she said that innovation in the service was the answer to local government financial pressures, asking: "We have 151 library authorities - can we afford that or should they merge and work together?" Hodge also reiterated her support for partnerships between libraries and other services, and with private companies such as Starbucks.
Library campaigner Alan Gibbons, also part of the "Newsnight" debate, said the service had suffered from poor leadership. He said good book stock, as well as ICT, was needed, together with professional librarians and a focus on staff who deal with the public rather than back-office positions.