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Public Libraries

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his Department's policy is on the development of community libraries. (253760)

It is right that authorities take a fresh look at how to deliver their services, and they remain accountable to their communities for the changes they make.

Some authorities have found that the best way to manage limited resources is to provide basic library services in community facilities, or to hand smaller libraries over to their communities. Authorities that have done so often report positive additional outcomes for communities.

Community libraries can be very successful and offer a full range of services, when the relationship between the community involved and the various partners is handled responsibly. DCMS encourages any authority considering the ‘community run’ option to carry out extensive consultation with the communities affected.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what definition his Department uses of “comprehensive and efficient” in relation to library services. (253786)

Local library authorities have duties under the Public Libraries and Museums Act (1964) to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service, and it is predominantly this duty that the Secretary of State is tasked with superintending under section 1 of the Act.

However, the Department acknowledges that what constitutes a “comprehensive and efficient” library service will vary significantly between local authority areas given the nature and needs of their particular communities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the effects of the Big Lottery Fund's scheme for libraries on the development of community libraries since October 2006. (253914)

The majority of the funded projects have only recently started on their capital elements, so the Big Lottery fund have informed the Department that it is too early to make an assessment of the impact of the programme. However, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council are conducting an evaluation, which is expected to report in 2010, and Big Lottery Fund will also be commissioning its own evaluation in due course.