Debate on public libraries - House of Commons, 11 July 2019

Libraries are trusted spaces, free to enter and open to all. They provide people with the opportunity to read and learn with a range of books, digital and other resources. The way people use libraries is changing, and councils have a key role in their development as these changes take place, including exploring alternative models of delivery such as trust or community-run libraries.

Key messages

  • Public libraries are an important part of our communities. In 2014/15, public libraries were visited 225 million times, which was more than visits to Premier League football games, the cinema and the top 10 UK tourist attractions combined.┬áIn 2017/18, this increased to 233 million visits.
  • Whilst libraries continue to serve as a book-lending and learning service, they are increasingly becoming community hubs, bringing people together and giving them access to a greater breadth of services and support. This has included initiatives supporting public health and helping people into work.
  • Library services have also seen the benefits of technological and digital innovation, giving them opportunities to offer new services, bring in new customers and extend their reach into communities. This has included libraries offering facilities such as 3D printers, coding clubs and support for start-ups and small businesses.
  • As demand for services such as adult social care increases, resources available for councils to provide comprehensive library services are reduced. We are calling on the Government to provide a long-term funding solution for local government services in the Spending Review.
  • The LGA provides support and improvement resources for councils with responsibilities for libraries. This includes a guide for councillors and bespoke library peer challenges in partnership with Arts Council England, which act as a sector-led improvement tool for local authorities.
  • The LGA welcomed the opportunity to be a co-sponsor of the Libraries Taskforce in 2016. The Taskforce has achieved notable success in bringing together partners at a national level, but support now needs to be directed at the frontline. We are looking forward to working with Government to develop plans for future public library funding beyond 2020.

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Debate on public libraries - House of Commons, 11 July 2019