1964 Act is "barrier to reform", claims LGA

1964 Act is "barrier to reform", claims LGA

The Local Government Association has called for the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act to be updated, saying it is "outdated and stifles modernisation". 

In its written submission to the culture, media and sport select committee, the LGA calls the present Act, which requires all library authorities to offer a "comprehensive and efficient service" to residents, with the secretary of state superintending, "a barrier to library reform". 

Instead the body says: "A modern Libraries Act without the superintendent role of central government would give councillors the scope to re-design their library services to meet local people’s needs." 

The LGA maintains: "Closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services; with the exploration of on line and community delivery models, it can mean accessing services in a different way. Other councils have decided to re-design their library services; and some have added to their portfolio of libraries."

The 600-page collection of written submissions to the committee has been published online, and includes submissions from Doncaster and South Gloucestershire councils, which have both faced vigorous local opposition to library closures. Campaigners including those in Oxfordshire and Suffolk, and in individual library campaigns such as the Upper Norwood Library Campaign, have also made submissions.

The inquiry opens tomorrow (Tuesday 7th February), with oral evidence from The Reading Agency director Miranda McKearney, Abigail Barker of Voices for the Library, The Library Campaign, and Sue Charteris, author of the Charteris report into proposed library closures in the Wirral.

Proceedings can be viewed live online via www.parliamentlive.tv.

The committee is chaired by John Whittingdale MP.