CILIP: libraries report 'does not meet needs'

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has added its voice to criticism of the report issued following the first year of the DCMS-backed Future Libraries programme.

The report, "Future Libraries: Change, Options and How to Get There", draws on the pilot scheme run with 38 councils, and includes recommendations such as putting libraries in the hands of community groups, private sector funding and self-service borrowing points in shops and village halls.

However, CILIP chief executive Annie Mauger said the report was not a "robust" enough piece of work from which to draw proper conclusions for the service. She said: "A Tory government made libraries statutory, now here we are with a Tory government supporting a programme that is not giving anything that will meet people's needs. I feel quite strongly that it is such a limited document in scope and doesn't change the underlying issue that libraries are being hit more than any other service."

Mauger joined shadow culture minister Gloria de Piero and the Women's Institute, which is campaigning on libraries, in critiquing the report's recommendation of community-run groups. Mauger said: "We recognise the need to save money, but we don't have any evidence that this will. The idea that some of these alternative models cost the council less is not right. I've run several charities, and volunteers are a wonderful part of them, but they need management, training and co-ordination. There are also technical issues, over data protection, and managing assets is not something that one can hand over to volunteers. It's a simplistic model."

Yesterday WI chair Ruth Bond said she was "disappointed" in the report and that volunteers were "not a replacement for a professional service." Meanwhile, shadow culture minister Gloria de Piero said she was "extremely sceptical" that a volunteer-run library could be achieved without compromising the service, and accused culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and culture minister Ed Vaizey of standing by while the cuts happened.