Overdue: How to Create a Modern Public Service Library

This report, written in 2003, warned of the impending crisis of the public library service. Many of its warnings have come true in the face of the austerity since 2008.

The report argues that decisive action was needed to safeguard public libraries. Public libraries used to be central to the life of many communities but they are increasingly marginalised. People now get books and information from other sources. Libraries need to respond by making themselves more attractive, while building on their traditional strengths.

This report recommends the creation of a new national library development agency (NLDA) which would bring together all library stakeholders from national and local government. A crucial job for the new agency would be to create a libraries network to tackle the fragmentation of the existing service. The report goes on to describe a 10-year strategy for transforming libraries. It recommends the creation of library ‘hubs’, based in shopping centres, which learned the lessons of more attractive retail environments by blending learning and leisure.

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