An answer to Taskforce critics

Libraries are hugely important to communities across the country and the Libraries Taskforce was set up to help reinvigorate this service and ensure that it remains relevant to local communities.

The Libraries Taskforce, which first met in March 2015, is supported by a team of five people who have been in place since September 2015. The Taskforce’s role is to enable the delivery of the recommendations from the Independent Library Report for England and to build upon, and add value to existing good practice, partnerships and other activities that are already supporting public libraries.

One recommendation from the Report was for the development of a shared vision for public libraries in England. The Taskforce published a draft document for consultation on 23rd March 2016: Libraries Deliver: Ambition for public libraries in England 2016-2021

The consultation period concluded on 3rd June. As we outlined in a recent blog post, during this period, we ran a series of open workshops around the country where we spoke with a wide range of people with an interest in libraries, including councillors, library workers, partners, suppliers, friends groups, and library users. We also provided an online questionnaire and received responses via email and post.

The collected feedback from this process is being analysed and will inform the final version of the Ambition document, which we intend to publish in summer this year. Most importantly of all, it will be accompanied by a detailed action plan that will set out what will be done to achieve the vision outlined and who will be involved and when.

A recent blog post [Get a Grip, Libraries Taskforce by Desmond Clarke] quite correctly lists the succession of reports that have been done into the public library network in England. So what is different this time? We will provide a clear vision and action plan which the key library stakeholders will all have signed up to. The Taskforce is already in place to ensure delivery of the action plan, and we will be fully transparent on progress so we can be held to account.

The post states that what is needed is an imaginative strategic plan to re-invigorate the library network. We encourage everyone to read the final version of the Ambition document and to judge us on delivery of the action plan.

Kathy Settle is chief executive of the Libraries Taskforce.