Hodge says 'no ambiguity' over library statutory basis

<p>Culture minister Margaret Hodge has defended her stance towards the public library service. In a letter sent to <em>The Bookseller</em>, she said it was &quot;simply wrong to suggest there is ambiguity over the statutory basis of the public library&quot;.</p><p>She added: &quot;It is timely to look at updating certain aspects of the Public Libraries legislation - for instance the inquiry process set out in the Public Libraries (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 1992.</p><p>&quot;What is as relevant today as it was in 1964 is the statutory basis of the library service. It is the statutory basis which has protected and sustained a library service that plays a vital role in our communities. I have no intention of changing it.&quot;</p><p>Doubts were raised over the question of whether libraries should remain a statutory local authority service, after question 20 of the Library Modernisation Review asked if it was important that libraries remain a statutory obligation. Two weeks ago her Tory shadow Ed Vaizey said it was &quot;outrageous and offensive to everyone who ever cared about books and reading&quot; to raise the question, leading to a row between the pair.</p><p>Hodge&#39;s letter to <em>The Bookseller</em> came in response to an <a href="../news/112333-ambiguity-remains-over-library-serv" target="_blank">earlier article</a> covering a people&#39;s inquiry into public libraries held by public service union Unison at the British Library on 11th February.</p><p>At the inquiry, Hodge said a &quot;very rigorous policy statement&quot; would be issued on libraries &quot;well before&quot; the general election, widely expected to be held on 6th May. It is understood that the long-awaited Library Modernisation Review may be published as early as the second week of March.</p><p> On the statutory basis of libraries, she added: &quot;We are considering whether the legislation is relevant, the way it is implemented is sufficient - it was a long, expensive process when the secretary of state intervened [in the Wirrall].&quot;</p><p>It is &quot;an issue we are going to look at in the report&quot;, she told the inquiry&#39;s attendees. </p>