A review discovers that libraries in England are not receiving enough recognition from the government.
A recent evaluation of libraries in England has revealed a “lack of acknowledgement” from the government and a “lack of understanding” among the public regarding the resources and services available through libraries.
The suggestion is to appoint a minister of libraries, designate a libraries laureate, and launch a promotional campaign to increase recognition of the importance of libraries, along with other suggestions.
In September of last year, Culture, Media and Sport minister Stephen Parkinson requested a review. Baroness Sanderson was tasked with conducting the review, which involved visiting libraries in England, consulting with volunteers and library-connected organizations, and examining examples from other countries.
A major suggestion suggests that the British Library should play a leading role in initiating a “significant and meaningful discussion” about libraries, which could potentially result in exciting opportunities and partnerships.
Liz Jolly, the top librarian at the British Library, expressed her approval of the evaluation. She stated, “We are eager to collaborate with DCMS and other partners in the industry to address the common challenges and opportunities identified by Baroness Sanderson.”
The report also proposes the establishment of a central data hub to demonstrate the influence of libraries on communities. It also recommends considering the option of automatically enrolling children in library memberships.
Isobel Hunter, the CEO of Libraries Connected, a charity that advocates for public libraries, participated in discussions as part of the review. She expressed positive views on the recommendations for a national data hub, automatic enrollment for children, and the appointment of a libraries minister.
According to Hunter, the main problem affecting the sector is the lack of investment in the public library network. This is due to budget reductions, inflation, and increasing demand for other essential services like social care.
Hunter stated that in order for libraries to thrive and achieve their maximum potential as described in Baroness Sanderson’s review, there needs to be a more equitable and sustainable funding solution from councils. Without this, it will be challenging to fully carry out and support the recommendations.
The report suggests additional measures such as improving the library volunteer network and adjusting the timing of Libraries Week, an annual event promoting library resources, to align with the parliamentary term.
The article suggests that a libraries laureate should be chosen, someone with a prominent and unique voice. This person would serve as a go-to spokesperson for the media and advocate for libraries. The current children’s laureate, Joseph Coelho, supports this idea.
“The author expressed that their literacy was a challenge, but it was the library that aided in their success. They pondered the alternative of not going to the library and believed they may have fallen through the cracks of the education system. The libraries played a crucial role in transforming their life and without them, they may not have pursued writing. This is why they are advocating for a library laureate.”
The results will be used to create a new plan for the government, which will be drafted by the DCMS and released later this year.