Sieghart: 'Beeching moment' for public library service

Sieghart: 'Beeching moment' for public library service

The public library service is at "a Beeching moment", philanthropist William Sieghart, who is currently chairing an independent library review, has acknowledged.

Making the keynote speech at the a.g.m. of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) on Saturday (20th September), Sieghart compared library cuts to the devastating cuts to British railways in the 1960s, saying:"We need to do something urgently. We’re at a Beeching moment - the review that led to the closure of railway branch lines - which many regret, and that’s why this is urgent."

He added: "It’s a world that’s begging for action. It needs a change of narrative, it’s in a downward spiral of negativity, judicial reviews, closures, volunteers, we do not have a positive narrative but there are elements of positivity."

Sieghart, who previously led a report into e-lending in libraries,  is currently chairing an independent review of public library services in England, jointly commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Publication of the independent review is expected soon.

The a.g.m. also saw changes to CILIP's governance voted on, resulting in the creation of a policy committee and resources committee. CILIP council will be renamed the board, with councillors becoming board members. However, others proposed changes were not adopted. Changes to the appointment process that would add a co-opted member to the council, and the merger of the president and council leader role, were not approved by enough members.

Other votes saw new subscription rates introduced from 1st January 2015, with a 50% discount for those in their first year of work after student membership, a new senior career grade for those earning more than £42,000, now linked to tax bands, and an increase on all subscriptions of 2%, except for unwaged members and those earning less than £5,000 a year.

Sieghart also announced the winner of the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award, which went to Enterprise Hubs, a partnership between Northamptonshire Library and Information Service and the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, which stimulates business start-ups and self-employment among the region's job seekers and entrepreneurs.

Also on the day, Sam Wiggins, senior research librarian at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP was named CILIP Mentor of the Year, while Danny Budzak, Janene Cox MCLIP, Lloyd Ellis Blib, Jennifer Housego, John Vincent MCLIP and Philip Wark MCLIP were appointed as CILIP honorary fellows.