Skip to main content


Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what percentage of public libraries were classed as of (a) good and (b) excellent standard in each year since 1997; (87016)

(2) what criteria are used to determine the quality of public libraries.

Different aspects of the performance of the 149 public library authorities in England have been assessed, on a different basis, for DCMS since 1998. There was no formal assessment by the Department before then.

Though the terms “excellent” and “good” have been part of the assessments of public library authority performance carried out for DCMS, there is no direct comparison between these different types of assessments.

Annual Library Plans were introduced in 1998 to improve the planning processes of library authorities. The scoring methodology was refined over time until they were discontinued in 2002-03 by which time 64 per cent. of authorities were producing plans that were assessed as good or excellent.

Library position statements were introduced in 2003-04 to assess the extent to which authorities were engaging with key messages that emerged from the Framework for the Future national public library strategy document. Authorities that were assessed as “excellent” in overall Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) terms; or “excellent” in CPA “Leisure and Libraries” terms and “good” overall were exempted from having to provide position statements. Additionally, authorities assessed as having provided an excellent position statement in 2003-04 were exempted from having to produce one in 2004-05. Therefore, there is no straight read across for the two years. However, of those authorities making submissions by the end of 2004-05, 87 per cent. were assessed as having presented good or excellent position statements.

The Public Library Standards originated in 2001-02 to introduce performance measurement for library authorities in England. They now form part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment Culture Block. The basis of assessment for authorities’ performance against the standards has evolved across the period so it is not possible to make straight comparisons. In 2004-05, authorities were assessed on the number of standards they had passed. Details of each of the 149 authorities’ performance appear in the Public Library Statistics 2005-06 Estimates and 2004-05 Actuals published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Copies are held in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many (a) books, (b) audio books, (c) videos, (d) computer games and (e) DVDs were stocked in public libraries in each London borough in each year since 1997; (87252)

(2) how many (a) books, (b) audio books, (c) videos, (d) DVDs and (e) computer games have been lent by libraries in each London borough since 1997.

This information is not held centrally. However, the Public Library Statistics, published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, contain similar data to those being sought. The House of Commons Library holds copies for the period in question.