Vaizey wants streamlined library service

<p>New culture minister Ed Vaizey has vowed to abolish the Advisory Council for Libraries but has backtracked on his opposition promise to set up a Library Development Agency, saying: &quot;I don&#39;t want to waste a huge amount of time, there&#39;s no money, and it could be unwieldy and inflexible.&quot;</p><p>Vaizey prefaced his keynote speech at the Re-modelling Libraries Conference in London this afternoon (1st July) with the comment: &quot;I&#39;ve been set the interesting challenge by George Osborne to do something with absolutely no money&quot;, and the issue of costs was high on the agenda.</p><p>Vaizey said ensuring effective leadership in the sector did not mean making any radical change, but a better use of the leaders which the service already has. Rather than a new agency, Vaizey announced he would instead be setting up a &quot;support programme&quot; led by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Local Government Association (LGA) Group. The programme will offer &quot;intensive, proactive work&quot; with about 10 library authorities initially, and will &quot;investigate where they can drive down costs whilst maintaining a quality service.&quot;</p><p>The culture minister said 151 separate library authorities library management teams was &quot;too many&quot; and &quot;will not be sustainable in future years.&quot; Instead Vaizey said he would like to see voluntary alliances to help to significantly reduce the overhead of the service. &quot;Think about how much we could save collectively if we only had 100 library authority management teams rather than 151. And those savings could help protect the service to the library user,&quot; he said.</p><p>Of the Advisory Council for Libraries, he commented: &quot;As a statutory body with little flexibility, I don&#39;t think it is suitable for the challenge we face at the moment.&quot;<br /><br />Vaizey iterated it was &quot;not for central government to come up with ideas, through a centrally managed process, and then impose them as policy on the sector as a whole. Rather it is for local authorities to take up these initiatives where they are suitable, and for local authorities to learn from each other.&quot;<br /><br />However he vowed to be a champion for libraries&quot;, saying he wanted to challenge the leadership at local authority level to look at the opportunities that libraries offer and would be writing to all chief<br />executives &quot;to underline the point&quot;. &quot;Libraries offer opportunities and sustainable solutions - they are not a service that is simply an easy cut in tough times,&quot; he said.</p><p>LLL chairman Tim Coates, attending the conference, said he was &quot;disappointed&quot; that the Library Development Agency idea had been shelved and library leadership largely unchanged. &quot;The 10 council project could be fruitful but I&#39;m worried about the alliance of all the different quangoes,&quot; he said. &quot;Basically they are the same people who have been in charge of libraries for the last 10 years and unless there is new expertise and understanding it&#39;s hard to see how they can produce a different response.&quot;<br /><a href="http/writetoreply.org/re-modelling-libraries-2010/" target="_blank"><br />Link to full speech on DCMS website</a></p>