VfL celebrates 50th anniversary of Public Libraries Act

VfL celebrates 50th anniversary of Public Libraries Act

Voices for the Library is marking the 50th anniversary of the Public Libraries and Museums Act by releasing a series of pieces on the state of the modern library service.

The 1964 Museums and Public Library Act was enacted on 31st July 1964, and enshrined in law local authorities' legal responsibility to provide a "comprehensive and efficient" service, and for the government to oversee its provision.

Academics such as Dr Steve Davies of the Cardiff University School of Social Sciences and Professor Bob Usherwood of the University of Sheffield have written pieces, with Davies arguing for a new act that "reflects the fast changing requirements of the modern public library service in today’s digital situation", and Usherwood insisting on the importance of the intervention of the secretary of state where local authorities fail to comply.

Professor Charles Oppenheim, former professor of information science at Loughborough University calls for increased investment in public libraries to ensure: "the economic well-being of both the individuals and the country as a whole", while David McMenemy of the University of Strathclyde argues that the original act was a "wasted opportunity" and calls for a new act that more clearly defines provision and the rights of the local community.

Ian Clark of Voices for the Library said: "There is a strong and important future for public libraries across the country, which our elected representatives have a continued responsibility to support. Here’s to 50 years of the Act – we must continue to appreciate its value and create a public library service fit for purpose, which can meet the challenges and opportunities ahead."

All of the articles will be available on the Voices for the Library website.