Page: 'new library review will bring real change'

Page: 'new library review will bring real change'

Faber c.e.o Stephen Page has assured library campaigners that the latest review into public libraries will look to drive real changes.

The publisher is one of a number of members of a new review panel, led by William Sieghart, which will create a report looking at the core principles of libraries, how their services are delivered, and what role community libraries have to play.

Commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government, the report was announced on National Libraries Day (8th February) and features many of the same panellists as the Sieghart Review into library e-lending, with Sieghart, Page, novelist Joanna Trollope and Caroline Michel of PFD all taking part, alongside Janene Cox of the Society of Chief Librarians, public policy consultant Sue Charteris, Luke Johnson and Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library.

Page said all the members were keen to ensure the report had an impact. He said: "The structure of the public library service doesn't make it easy to take singular, decisive action. But the people around the table feel strongly about making sure there can be action."

He added: "Taking part in the previous Sieghart report was enjoyable and very interesting, and really moved the debate on. The final report suggested strong, implementable changes. The new report has a big topic, a huge number of stakeholders, and I hope we can create something similar."

Some library campaigners have criticised the announcement of the report, urging the government to act on libraries immediately rather than hold a further review of the area.

Referring to libraries minister Ed Vaizey, Desmond Clarke said: "If there were a prize for avoiding the need to do anything, Mr Vaizey and his officials would go straight to the top of the class." He also said that because the report would not be completed until the end of 2014, it could be forgotten about by the next general election.

A spokesperson for the DCMS told The Bookseller it was "too early to speculate on the outcome of this report", and defended its commissioning by saying: "With competing demands it is very important there is a clear understanding of the role of libraries both now and in the future to help them meet the changing needs of society."

When asked how the report would differ from previous reviews, which have been largely ineffective, the DCMS said: "The focus in the past has tended to be about the buildings themselves, rather than a reflection of the service as a whole and how it may need to transform in response to differing expectations within the wider economic context along with changes in demographics and technology."

The body added: "There has also been little or no consideration about the role of volunteers or different models of delivery."