BA and PA in library plea to councils

BA and PA in library plea to councils

The Publishers Association and Booksellers Association have written to all local authority chief executives, saying they are "deeply concerned" about potential spending cuts leading to libraries disappearing from communities.

The joint letter, sent on 31st March to all executives across England and Scotland, and signed by both BA chief executive Tim Godfray and PA chief executive Richard Mollet, said: "Whilst we recognise that the state of public finances makes some cuts inevitable—indeed similar pressures are faced in the commercial sector—we are deeply troubled by the prospect that spending decisions may lead to library services disappearing from some communities."

It talked of fears that "reducing the provision of library services would do more than take away access to a particular building; it would deprive people of access to knowledge and would diminish social integration".

It also called on councils who felt their ability to meet their "duty" on providing a "comprehensive and efficient" library service to their community, as stipulated in the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, was under threat, to "make representations to that effect to national government".

The letter said: "We believe that such a message—especially if echoed by other local authorities in the same predicament—could have a salutary effect on ministers and may bring about a reassessment of the impact of central policy decisions on the library service".

In an additional comment, Mollet said: "Libraries play a key role within communities, acting as hubs for people of all backgrounds to visit in order to learn and interact. We of course recognise that, in this challenging financial climate, not all library services can be preserved, but we would ask local authorities to ensure that they are balancing their budget priorities with the fundamental needs of communities and their statutory duties."

Godfray added: "UK PLC needs a literate society. Books feed the mind, and libraries play a key part in making books available to all sectors of society. We urge councils to provide to their communities a comprehensive and efficient library service".