Public Libraries: Voluntary Work

Department for Culture Media and Sport written question – answered on 10th July 2015.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 20 June 2015 to Question 3288, for what reasons he is not able to estimate the cost of collecting information on the number of volunteer-run libraries.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

The public library statistics published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in December 2014 included for the first time a breakdown of the different ways in which communities are involved with their local public library service for each of the local authorities in England. A copy of the annual report is placed in the House Library. However, libraries run by volunteers also operate outside of the public library service provided by local authorities and as previously indicated, the Department does not collect data on their number.

The responsibility of the Secretary of State under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 is to superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and secure the proper discharge by local authorities of their duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service. This responsibility does not extend to libraries which operate outside of the public library service provided by local authorities and for this reason information is not collected. To do so would require the initial and on-going input of 151 local authorities in England, as well as contributions from other sources and analysis of the robustness of the data.

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