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Libraries

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made since the wider efficiency review into libraries carried out by the accountants and consultants PKF in June 2005. (86216)

The PKF report recommended that there were particular efficiencies to be found within the stock procurement systems. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) therefore commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to undertake a detailed study of the potential for efficiencies in this area and to develop a model to realise them. PwC will report on its proposals shortly. Work will then follow to implement its proposed model.

We envisage that the work on stock procurement will provide lessons that could be transferred to other areas of public library management and service delivery—for example, in increased joint working and procurement of services such as marketing materials and reading promotions.

PKF also recommended that library authorities should review staff management and staff structures towards optimum efficiency. Although this recommendation was directed at individual authorities, MLA is seeking to encourage the adoption of efficient working practices through current programmes such as peer reviews and through a number of proposed activities in the new 2006-08 “Framework for the Future” action plan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what percentage of the funding of public libraries was spent on books in the last period for which figures are available; and what the planned figure is for 2006-07. (86217)

According to the Public Library Statistics for 2004-05, published by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), the 149 library authorities in England spent £69,010,676 on books and pamphlets and a further £6,201,131 on newspapers, periodicals and magazines out of total revenue expenditure of £912,620,958. These are the latest “actuals” figures available.

Planned expenditure figures for 2006-07 are not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how the role of the Advisory Council for Libraries will differ from that of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. (86219)

The Advisory Council on Libraries (ACL) is currently being re-constituted. When this process is complete there will be an equal number of serving public librarians and non-librarians with knowledge or expertise relevant to the work of public libraries. The ACL will advise DCMS Ministers and officials, and also Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) officials, on a range of public libraries issues. The ACL will meet two or three times a year.

The MLA also advises DCMS and its Ministers as the full-time lead strategic agency for museums, libraries and archives. Working in partnership with its nine regional agencies, the MLA works to improve people's lives by building knowledge, supporting learning, inspiring creativity and celebrating identity. The MLA Partnership acts collectively for the benefit of the sector and the public, leading the transformation of museums, libraries and archives for the future.

Current improvement programmes for public libraries include the various work strands of the Framework for the Future Action Plan, such as the leadership programme, peer reviews and the stock procurement project. It is also leading on work to review the Public Library Service Standards and Impact Measures.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what is the planned annual budget of the Advisory Council for Libraries. (86220)

The Advisory Council on Libraries (ACL) is currently being re-constituted. When this process is complete there will be 12 members with an equal number of serving public librarians and non-librarians with knowledge or expertise relevant to the work of public libraries.

The ACL will not have an annual budget as its members will be unremunerated, receiving only reasonable travelling and subsistence expenses. These will be paid from DCMS running costs.