Well! There is to be ‘a new public libraries strategy due in 2023… to make sure [they] are providing the best possible service for their communities’.
Whatever that means, it will be based on work by a new ‘advisory panel’ led by one Baroness Sanderson. Her job will be to act as an ‘independent chair’ and ‘provide a fresh, challenging and impartial
perspective on libraries to help formulate innovative new policy ideas’.
It’s not yet known who will be on this panel. TLC has been quick to urge that it should include library users.
In a hastily-sent email to the Baroness, we said: ‘We believe that library users and supporters have a lot to contribute to any review of the service at national level, as well as whatever contribution they may make locally.
‘Their perspective will be different from most, if not all, of the library bodies and others who have in the past been part of this sort of panel / review.’
Baroness Sanderson is billed as ‘an experienced former journalist [for the Mail on Sunday] and government adviser [to TheresaMay] who joined the government benches in the House of Lords in 2019’.
Meanwhile, we must go by what she has so far said: ‘I’m thrilled to be taking up this new role.
‘Libraries play such an important part in our lives, be that instilling a love of reading in childhood or encouraging economic, social and mental wellbeing throughout adulthood and into old age.
‘Too often undervalued, they are one of the most critical forms of social infrastructure we have and I look forward to working alongside the experts, and listening to a wide range of voices, so that we may
help develop ideas as to how we may promote and protect our libraries into the future.’
The government claims there has only been one previous national strategy, in 2016. TLC would say there have been quite a few, under different names. If you want to check up on the 2016 version, it’s all
there in the back issues of our magazine: issue no 93, pp 8-9.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/baroness-sanderson-to-help-develop-new-public-libraries-strategy

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