Public Libraries

Culture Media and Sport written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Labour, West Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make an assessment of the likely effect on public library authority budgets for 2009-10 of the time taken to publish the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy's (CIPFA's) survey of library usage; whether his Department has held discussions with CIPFA on the matter; what account he takes of (a) the survey and (b) other statistics when assessing the value of public library services; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Culture), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

It is unlikely that the time taken to publish the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy's (CIPFA's) survey of library usage will have an effect on public library authority budgets for 2009-10.

Due to the various validity checks from both CIPFA and the Audit Commission, and taking in queries from local authorities, the earliest date that figures can be shared with all subscribers is November. Data are published nationally between January and March. CIPFA believes this timetable ensures a 100 per cent. response rate and accurate data. We do not believe this timetable affects an authority's ability to plan budgets for the following financial year.

DCMS is represented on the CIPFA Library Standards and Statistics Working Party, but has not otherwise discussed the survey with CIPFA.

Being the primary source of data on public libraries, we look forward to the publication of the annual CIPFA statistics. However, we believe that local authorities should have the freedom to manage their library budgets in accordance with the needs and wishes of their communities and that close monitoring of their performance is unnecessary.

The Library Service Modernisation Review, which was launched by the Secretary of State in October, will define Government's high level vision for the provision of modernised library services, and the necessary steps to achieve this vision, and is intended to encourage excellence in all authorities. We believe that participation increases when services are excellent and we hope that results of our own Taking Part and Active People surveys will demonstrate year on year increases in library participation.

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