CILIP Cymru Wales has said it supports the Deputy Minister’s continued commitment to public libraries in Wales, and his acknowledgement of the role libraries play in delivering a wide range of vital services including digital, cultural and literacy.
Ken Skates’ statement reflects CILIP’s commitment to developing a National Library and Information Skills Strategy, informed by CILIP Cymru’s recent Workforce Mapping Survey and set out in Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy, our submission to the 2015 Governmental Spending Review.
“I am committed to our public libraries being welcoming community hubs which deliver a range of digital, literacy and cultural services, as well as providing access to other services,” the deputy minister said in his statement. “Since October 2014 my officials in Museums, Archives and Libraries Division have been working with the library sector to progress the recommendations of the Expert Review and the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee’s Inquiry Report.”
He said that by March 2016 the Every Child A Library Member initiative will have been rolled out across Wales, targeting 35,000 children aged 8-9 years to be automatically signed up to their public library service.
Professionally led libraries have demonstrated how efficiencies are possible while continuing to provide the public with high quality services. A single Library Management System for public libraries in Wales not only has the potential to save money but also means that a single library card for Wales will be possible. In his statement Ken Skates projects: “Potential costs savings of up to 70 per cent compared to current expenditure on this infrastructure” from the shared system.”
CILIP Cymru Wales believes it is crucial to secure public benefit by ensuring that Welsh libraries continue to have access to the skills and competencies of professional librarians, despite the economic pressures at play.
“We welcome the statement of the Deputy Minster and his commitment to securing the future of public libraries in Wales,” said Mandy Powell, Head of CILIP Cymru Wales. “His vision of a network of Community Hubs that provide a range of public services is justifiably ambitious, and the role of professional information staff will clearly be crucial in developing a sustainable public library service that supports the needs of communities across Wales while retaining the benefits of a joined-up approach.”
Powell said that maintaining and developing the professional expertise needed to deliver this vision would require Local Authorities to fully recognise and support the impact of these skills and expertise
“With the reorganisation of local authorities on hold until after the May election the success of the Government’s modernisation programme hinges on regional commitment to funding vibrant local libraries developed and delivered by skilled staffed.”
She added that it was a false economy to cut the expert and qualified staff who make a significant difference to their local communities – and that a short term saving at the cost of significantly reducing opportunities for future generations, would be exactly at the point where their impact is greatest.
CILIP Cymru Wales will continue to work with Ministers, departments across national government and local authorities to ensure the voice of the profession in Wales is heard and in the run up to the May election it “will be campaigning hard with our members to make sure that politicians seeking our vote know how essential modern library services are,” said Powell.
Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport