Delay to Libraries Taskforce report 'a disgrace'

Delay to Libraries Taskforce report 'a disgrace'

Library campaigners have expressed their intense frustration at the continued non-appearance of the Libraries Taskforce's Ambition report on a national strategy for England's public libraries.

A first draft of the report, Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021, produced by the Libraries Taskforce at the behest of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was released a full eight months ago.

Meanwhile in a blog post for The Bookseller published in June, the Taskforce chief executive Kathy Settle said she expected publication of the final report in the summer. But no final document has yet been released.

Following the departure of culture minister Ed Vaizey, Rob Wilson was appointed as new libraries minister in July.

Campaigner Tim Coates told The Bookseller he feared the report had been "kicked into the long grass, leaving the Taskforce with nowhere to go." He said: "This is really serious - it was already the last last chance saloon for public libraries. It's hard to believe that a public service could be so badly let down by public officials (both elected and appointed) when the need and demand and expense of the service are all so huge."

Fellow campaigner Desmond Clarke commented: "It is a disgrace that two years after the Sieghart Inquiry warned of the serious issues faced by the service, there is still no plan to address these. Meanwhile more libraries are threatened with closure and many users walk away."
 
A DCMS spokesperson said: “The Libraries Taskforce are producing a new vision for public libraries that will give local authorities practical and innovative options to improve and develop services across the country. It will be published shortly.”

The Taskforce was set up following publication of the Sieghart Report in December 2014. In January 2015, the chair of the Taskforce Paul Blantern said the body needed to bring about changes within 18 months or face failure.