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LGA: LIBRARY CLOSURES CAN MEAN BETTER SERVICES FOR COMMUNITIES

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LGA cultural services leaders today defended councils' rights to close libraries in a bid to improve services for t...
LGA cultural services leaders today defended councils' rights to close libraries in a bid to improve services for the wider community.

Speaking before giving evidence at the DCMS select committee, Cllr Chris Heinitz, gave his support to authorities which relocate under-used resources to more imaginative and community-based libraries.

Cllr Heinitz said: `Many councils with libraries built more than 100 years ago now find a shifting population means buildings are no longer in the heart of residential areas.

`Services have been relocated to where they will be most effective to the local community and this has led to closures. The LGA, however, does not defend changes that work against local needs.

`Libraries are one of the most valued local authority services with free access to information for every part of the community - from academic books and materials in minority languages to talking books and details of council and government initiatives.

`But funding varies from council to council and there are limited grants available for libraries - for instance the lottery offers money for museums, theatres and galleries but not for libraries.

`Some cash has been released to boost IT but without a revised funding strategy, libraries could face the ironic situation of housing state-of-the-art technology in crumbling Victorian buildings.'

NOTES

1) The LGA will give evidence to the department of media, culture and sport select committee.

2) The LGA has been working with the DCMS and the Library Association to develop the first national standards for libraries to help councils share good practice.

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