Michael Ellis has been confirmed as the new libraries minister at the department of digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), following Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle last week.
Ellis was formerly the deputy leader of the House of Commons. He is now parliamentary under secretary of state for the arts, heritage and tourism with responsibility for libraries.
His predecessor John Glen was moved to the Treasury last week to become economic secretary and city minister, a key role during Brexit negotiations.
It is the third time in 18 months that the minister responsible for libraries has changed, at a time that tens of libraries are closing every year. Glen became libraries minister in June 2017 after Rob Wilson lost his seat in the General Election, while Wilson took over from Ed Vaizey, in July 2016.
Following last week's cabinet reshuffle, Margot James was made culture minister after Matt Hancock was promoted to culture secretary, replacing Karen Bradley who is now Northern Ireland secretary. Under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act it is the culture secretary who ultimately is responsible for the stewardship and improvement of public library services in England.
In the 12 months to April 2017, 105 libraries shut down and £66m was slashed from libraries' budgets, according to figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finances and Accountancy (CIPFA). Since the start of austerity measure in 2012, 449 across England, Scotland and Wales have closed.