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BEST VALUE LOWER WEIGHTING FOR LIBRARY SERVICES 'TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE'

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CILIP has reacted angrily to proposals by the Audit Commission that ...
CILIP has reacted angrily to proposals by the Audit Commission that

libraries should have a secondary status to all other local council services

in the scoring system for efficiency in service delivery. Its chief

executive Bob McKee has described the move as an 'unexpected and

unacceptable slap in the face for all those associated with cultural or

leisure services.'

The proposals are contained in the Audit Commission consultation document

Comprehensive Performance Assessment Framework for Single Tier and County

Councils. It proposes giving efficiency scores for libraries and other

cultural services only half the weighting given to those for other council

activities such as social services or education, on the grounds that

libraries are 'not national priorities'.

In a joint response with the Society of Chief Librarians, CILIP has said

that it is 'extremely angry' at the proposal, which it describes as

'insulting'. Libraries and leisure are the only service area to be singled

out for such treatment, as the existing rules are regarded as being

sufficient to take care of all other services. 'The proposal is based on a

false premise that the services are not national priorities and the level of

service is subject to choice,' adds CILIP's principal policy adviser Guy

Daines. 'Neither of the above statements are true - public library

authorities are under a statutory obligation to provide a service that is

comprehensive and efficient.'

Dr McKee has also written to culture secretary Tessa Jowell, expressing

great concern at the proposals. 'Public libraries are subject to minimum

standards, specified by the government, and the arts minister Baroness

Blackstone is currently undertaking a wide-ranging review of the public

library service and will be producing a strategic framework for consultation

in the autumn,' he comments.

Compelling evidence of the importance of public libraries can be seen in:

the role of the People's Network in delivering e-government; early years

provision and reader development work to support the literacy and learning

agendas; and the recent Beacon Council awards, acknowledging the ways in

which library services contribute to sustainable communities.

Dr McKee concludes: 'The Audit Commission has almost wilfully ignored

libraries' contribution to lifelong learning, to neighbourhood regeneration,

to raising school standards - to most of the cross-cutting national

priorities recently agreed by the government and the Local Government

Association, in fact.'

Notes

CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is

the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and

knowledge managers, with around 23,000 members working in all sectors,

including business and industry, science and technology, further and higher

education, schools, local and central government departments and agencies,

the health service, the voluntary sector, national and public libraries.

CILIP's goals are to: position the profession at the heart of the

information revolution; develop and enhance the role and skills of all its

members; present and champion those skills, together with new ones which

will be acquired through continuing professional development; and ensure

that individuals, enterprises and not for profit organisations have ready

and timely access to the information they need.

CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals was

formed in April 2002 following the unification of the Institute of

Information Scientists and the Library Association. Further information is

available on CILIP's website - www.cilip.org.uk

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