MLA to tackle library suffering

<p>The MLA intends to help public libraries attract local authority support and get better funding with a new action plan, &quot;Towards 2013&quot;, released today (Monday).</p><p>The report says that libraries lack confidence and are falling short of their full potential amid shortcomings of leadership, staffing and funding, leaving them suffering from underinvestment and reduced book stocks. The MLA promises to be their advocate, and says it will help libraries by promoting best practice and sustaining investment in workforce development, promising to report on its progress every six months.</p><p>Innovation is identified as one of four key &quot;challenges&quot; in the plan. The MLA says it will encourage new approaches to the public library service, including the relocation and rationalisation of libraries, longer and more convenient opening hours, and new partnerships with the private as well as the public sector. The best libraries, it says, are &quot;entrepreneurial, efficiently managed and proactive advocates of good practice&quot;.</p><p>The MLA also promises to invest in research and publish its results, to show the impact libraries have on reading and learning and advocate a stronger recognition of the contribution they make. A programme of regional seminars will help promote best practice in public libraries.</p><p>The MLA&#39;s wishlist for digital development includes faster broadband connection and a single micro-chip membership card for all. It also promises to extend the provision of free or low cost reference materials through centrally negotiated contracts with providers and look at ways to make more use of interactive Web 2.0 technologies.</p>