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Ever keen to provide comprehensive coverage of developments in the Conservative Party, here are details of some proposals outlined by shadow culture minister Ed Vaizey in a speech to the  London Libraries Conference at the end of last week, but which have not received any attention in the national press.

He was launching the party’s library strategy, with the aim of rejuvenating the country’s public library service, and specific proposals include:

  • Introducing a national library card, entitling any member of a local library to use any library in the country (whilst ensuring the scheme did not impose any unfunded liabilities on local authorities);
  • Launching a voluntary Library Charter, to which local authorities would be invited to sign up. This would set out minimum standards for libraries, a community reading strategy, provide guidance on what constituted a “comprehensive and efficient” library service under the Public Libraries Act, and so provide objective guidance for the use of the Secretary of State’s powers to call in a local authority’s decision to close a library.
  • Putting in a place a four-year Renaissance for Libraries programme to share best practice between local authorities, resulting in a reduction in administration costs, greater investment in books and information technology, as well as better training for staff;
  • Encouraging councils to devolve budgets to local ward councillors, allowing them to decide whether to fund their local community library;
  • Abolishing the Advisory Council on Libraries.

You can read Mr Vaizey’s speech in full here.

Jonathan Isaby

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