Tories plan library 'renaissance'

<p>Shadow culture secretary Ed Vaizey has said that a Conservative government would introduce a new programme, &quot;Renaissance for Libraries&quot;, to identify weak authorities for improvement and establish a system of library inspection. He also said the Tories would bring in a voluntary Library Charter.</p><p>Speaking at the London Libraries Conference yesterday (5th March), Vaizey said that libraries were suffering from &quot;a crisis in leadership, in some local authorities, and particularly in central government&quot; and that the latest Labour-initiated library review &quot;simply wastes time&quot;. Tories would abolish the Advisory Committee on Libraries (ACL), he said, and instead bring in a new library development agency to be established through the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). </p><p>This would run a programme to train local authority cabinet members, help weak authorities improve, identify good management structures and establish library inspection. The shadow culture secretary also said the Tories would introduce a voluntary Charter for Libraries and Reading for local authorities, &quot;to act as an incentive to many local authorities to look carefully at their library strategy and aspire to achieve Charter status&quot;. Conservatives would also bring in a national library card, allow library users to borrow books from any library in the UK.</p><p>Vaizey stressed that a &quot;library without books &ndash; lots of books &ndash; is not a library&quot;. &quot;It is in books that writers make and have made the most intimate communication. In this format we deal not just in information, but in the subtleties and graduations of life and experience.&quot; </p><p>Vaizey added: &quot;I know that many people would like to see the responsibility for museums and libraries separated and separate services for museums and libraries established. It might well be a neater solution in the future and I am open-minded on this. But the need for action is urgent, and I do not want to waste the first 12 months of a Conservative administration reorganising a quango instead of getting down to the job.&quot;<br /></p>