Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Session 2004-05

9 March 2005

New Report:
Public Libraries

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes its Third Report, Public Libraries, (HC 81) at one minute past midnight on Thursday 10 March 2005.

The Chairman of the Committee, Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, said today: “Following a thorough inquiry, the Committee has agreed a unanimous and detailed report aimed at transforming one of the nation’s most trusted institutions.  Urgent action is required from those responsible for the service to reverse the decline in visitors, lending figures and the fabric of the library estate.  Our recommendations focus on libraries’ role in the promotion of reading and the need for effective mechanisms to ensure all public libraries across the country reach the very high standards expected of them by the public.”

The Society of Chief Librarians welcomes the recommendations of the report which “get to the heart of what is needed to support local authorities in delivering a cutting edge library service.”

Tim Coates, library consultant and witness before the Committee, described the report as “a lifeline for a service in distress.  I believe it should be taken up quickly and firmly.”

The Reading Agency commented: “We’re delighted and encouraged that the Committee’s report emphasizes the fundamental importance of reading for libraries in the 21st century.”

Advance copies of the Report will be available today from 1pm under strict embargo from  the Reception at No.7 Millbank.  The report will also be available via the parliamentary website from 3:00pm on 10 March 2005:

The inquiry ran from announcement on 26 October 2004 to agreement of the Report on 24 February 2005 and included a visit by the Committee to two Idea Stores in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The members of the Committee are: Sir Gerald Kaufman (Chairman), Mr Chris Bryant, Mr Frank Doran, Michael Fabricant, Mr Adrian Flook, Mr Nick Hawkins, Alan Keen, Rosemary McKenna, Ms Debra Shipley, John Thurso and Derek Wyatt.