Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Christine May Christine May Labour 2:15 pm, 8th March 2007

I remind the Parliament of my entry in the register of members' interests as chair of the Scottish Libraries and Information Council.

To ask the Scottish Executive how it will improve standards in the public library service. (S2O-12289)

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

A new public library quality improvement matrix has been developed and, after the completion of successful pilots, will be launched very soon. The matrix is designed to be used by local authorities as a self-evaluation tool to encourage continuous improvement in public library services. The Scottish Library and Information Council has developed the matrix in partnership with local authorities, with new funding of £500,000 per year from the Scottish Executive.

Photo of Christine May Christine May Labour

Is the minister aware that the quality improvement matrix that is due to be launched has generated interest from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Audit Commission in England, and from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand? Will she join me in congratulating those who were involved in developing it?

Is the minister aware that Fife Council has recently taken a decision to close certain libraries in Fife, including Pitteuchar in Glenrothes, in some cases as a result of the condition of the buildings? Will she join me in urging Fife Council not to close the facilities until adequate alternative provision is in place? Will she agree to meet me to discuss what suggestions I can make to the council to achieve that?

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I am not surprised that others are interested in the progress of the work that is being done on the quality improvement matrix. The feedback from the eight pilot projects shows that there can be very positive results for library communities. I am sure that the interest from elsewhere will increase as time goes on, particularly following the launch of the matrix.

I am aware of the situation in Fife, and I would be happy to meet Christine May to discuss what may be done.