Settle to step down as Libraries Taskforce chief next month

Settle to step down as Libraries Taskforce chief next month

The chief executive of the government’s Libraries Taskforce, Kathy Settle, is stepping down in March after three years in the role.

The news was revealed in a blog written by new libraries minister Michael Ellis, who was appointed to the role after prime minister Theresa May’s reshuffle last month.

Sheila Bennett, the current policy lead at the Taskforce, will take her place.

“I will encourage individual Taskforce member organisations to take more of a lead on certain aspects of its work," Ellis wrote. “I’m aware that Kathy Settle, who has been the Taskforce’s chief executive since its inception, and whose leadership, hard work and insights have been so valued by the sector, is stepping down at the end of March, and I thank her and wish her well.

“I’m confident that the rest of the Taskforce team, who’ll be led from April 2018 by Sheila Bennett (the current Policy lead), will continue to provide the excellent support and commitment to the Taskforce and the wider sector as they always have so far.”

Nick Poole, chief executive of CILIP, the library and information association, thanked Settle for her work in the role but said her departure marked an “opportune moment” to reflect on the Taskforce’s accomplishments to date and to “look ahead to the long-term leadership of the sector”.

“We continue to face significant challenges, particularly the lack of a fair financial settlement for local government and the adoption of models of service delivery which may not deliver the quality, equality or accountability which taxpayers have a right to expect,” Poole said. “Public librarians continue to do brilliant work every day enriching their communities, strengthening local economies and helping people to develop digital skills as well as a love of books and reading.”

Settle was appointed in March 2015 from her position as director for digital policy and departmental engagement in the Government Digital Service (GDS), part of the Cabinet Office.

In his blog, Ellis said he wanted to help libraries become the ‘go-to’ provider of digital access, training and support for local communities. He also said he wanted to promote the work that libraries do in the country.

“I take this seriously, and we monitor library services to ensure that local authorities are compliant with their statutory duties,” he said. “We are working with the Libraries Taskforce, Arts Council England and others to help libraries to prosper and to make sure that their important place in communities across the country is recognised.”