Editorial...more on reports.
My appeal in the last issue of Aplis for responses to the article produced several telephone calls and just two written responses, both of which are reproduced in this issue. I also suggested in the last issue that we have had a surfeit of public library reports, some more vacuous and values deficient than others, and that what is needed now is a concerted push to achieve the funds public libraries need to fulfil their mission. We know well enough now that public libraries are by far the most heavily used services provided through local government. We know that public libraries are multifaceted services in which the employment of simplistic notions of core and value added is futile. And we know that the people want them better supported from the taxation they contribute and often see wasted in less worthwhile expenditure.
Enter, then, the latest report on public libraries from Blair's New Britain entitled New library: the people's network. Produced in just two months and launched on 15 October 1997, New library notes that 58 per cent of people in the UK are registered library members (cf Australia about 42 per cent -- why the difference?), and states
The library is an enormously powerful agent for change: accessible to and trusted by the people, arid
integral to education, industry, government and the community.
Most significantly, after providing an eminently persuasive explanation in its 142 handsome pages of why the public library is at the centre of the mission for Blair's New Britain, the report does what most Australian reports have failed to do -- tell the national government that is has a key leadership responsibility for the welfare and future of the nation's public library system.
... It will be necessary for government to provide a meaningful contribution, both as a signal of
intent and as an incentive for others to participate. We therefore believe there is a minimum
requirement for government to
* fund the work of the Public Library Networking Agency
* underwrite the costs associated with a UK training program for librarians
* provide or broker central funding to initiate the implementation of the UK Public Library
Network and to incentivise library authorities and other partners to participate from the beginning
Incentivise -- now there is a word that should excite the Australian Prime Minister to action. Remember the response to his use of 'incentivisation' some two elections ago? Or do we, in Australia and New Zealand, have to await the swing of the political pendulum before a national government truly recognises by action public libraries as an issue for the nation.
Wait for the review of New library: the people's network in the next issue of Aplis, or order your own copy now for [pounds] 125 prepaid from Library and Information Commission 2 Sheraton Street London WIV 4BH fax 0171 411 0057 or find it at http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/services/lic/newlibrary.
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|Title Annotation:||on public libraries|
|Publication:||Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1997|
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