“What you always do before you make a decision is consult. The best public policy is made when you are listening to people who are going to be impacted. Then, once a policy is determined, you call on them to help you sell it.”
— Margaret Dole
Banner image (photo of Holyrood Parliament Banner image (photo of a delegate in a suit listening intently at a conference)

“…I remain resolutely optimistic about library services. I have never, even in opposition, depicted the library service as being in crisis.

I look to a future where:

- The Arts Council acts as a development agency for libraries
- Libraries can access funds and support from the Arts Council
- Poorly performing authorities are identified and helped to improve
- Key initiatives can be taken forward by central government, such as wi-fi or automatic enrolment for school children
- Government and local authorities understand what a vital resource libraries are across a whole range of activities

But we must always remember that libraries are a local service – free to serve their local community, to innovate and adapt to local needs…”

— Culture Minister, June 2012


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Event Details

Title: The Future of Local Libraries and Cultural Services
Date: Tuesday April 16th 2013
Time: 10.15am – 4:30pm
Venue: Broadway House, Westminster
Register your place

Key Speakers

Ian Watson, Member, National Executive, The Society of Chief Librarians; Chair, Library Statistics Working Group, Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA)
Miranda McKearney, Chief Executive, The Reading Agency
Barbara Leigh, Principal Librarian for Northampton and Wellingborough Area, Northamptonshire County Council


The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (the 1964 Act) sets out, in the context of local need, the statutory duty for all local authorities to provide an efficient library service. At present there are 151 library authorities delivering 3,243 public libraries in England, these authorities invested £820 million in 2011-12.

In June 2012, recognising the invaluable service libraries provide, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced a package of measures outlining his vision for a sustainable 21st Century public library service, which included three new initiatives:

  • A £6 million Arts Council fund to help libraries work with arts and cultural organisations and local communities
  • Introducing new ‘comparative profile reports’ , developed by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA), for all library authorities in England for the first time
  • Piloting the introduction of library cards for primary school children

Whilst these new measures are to be welcomed, at a time of shrinking budgets and increasing service demands, libraries need to keep finding innovative ways to safeguard library and cultural services. According to the Local Government Association, examples include libraries merging with GP surgeries, housing police front desks, giving shop space to local entrepreneurs and putting on concerts.

In addition, there has also been an increase in community managed and supported libraries situated within village halls, pubs, shops, churches, day care centres, tourist information centres and enterprise hubs. These community libraries provide an important alternative model for local communities, especially where a local authority is in the process of closing a building.

This special symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for local authorities, government departments, the library sector, shared services teams and other key partners to examine the Government’s latest policy initiatives and explore how libraries can remain a vital local resource in the 21st Century – innovating and adapting to deliver a whole range of services.

Delegates will:

  • Assess the shared services model in the context of council-led library services improving health, the economy and local communities
  • Examine the process of how poorly performing library authorities are identified and improved and the role of the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA)
  • Consider how libraries can further harness digital opportunities
  • Explore funding arrangements and support available to libraries
  • Analyse the Libraries Development Initiative and share ideas on the future vision for public library services


09:30 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:15 Chair’s Welcome and Introduction
10:30 Panel Session One:
Safeguarding Culture and Heritage – The Future of Local Libraries
  • Exploring present funding arrangements and support available to libraries
  • Understanding the process of how poorly performing library authorities are identified and improved and the work of the CIPFA in this area
  • Libraries in the digital age – Realising the ambition for wifi to be in every library in England by 2015 and exploring other technological opportunities
  • Sharing best practice on a future vision for public library services including the latest news on the Libraries Development Initiative
11:15 Morning Coffee Break
11:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One
12:30 Networking Lunch
13:30 Panel Session Two:
The Evolving Nature of Library Services – The Challenge for Local Authorities and their Strategic Partners
  • Working across Whitehall – exploring how libraries and Government Departments can work together to better deliver education, digital literacy and volunteering services
  • Automatic library membership for primary school pupils – What is the current outlook and how can we ensure more children use their local library?
  • Sharing services between and within councils to improve health, the economy and local communities
  • Understanding the support available for volunteers and community libraries to ensure long-term sustainability
  • Sharing knowledge of local case studies on how councils are finding innovative ways to re-engage the public with library services
14:15 Afternoon Coffee Break
14:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two
15:30 Chair’s Summary and Closing Comments
15:40 Networking Reception
16:30 Close

Who Should Attend?

  • Local Authorities
  • Library Managers
  • Library Suppliers
  • Library Sector Professionals
  • Local Authority Library Personnel
  • Libraries, Culture and Leisure Personnel
  • Key Voluntary, Community and other Third Sector Organisations
  • Policy Managers
  • National Development Agencies
  • Shared Services Teams
  • Income Managers
  • Neighbourhood Services Staff
  • Directors of Funding and Finance
  • Social Inclusion Officers
  • Social Services Representatives
  • Heads of Organisational Change
  • Heads of Equality and Diversity
  • Adults and Children’s Services Leads
  • Welfare Groups
  • Career Development Organisations
  • Recruitment and Employment Professionals
  • Business Enterprise and Support Representatives
  • Learning and Skills Councils Representatives

How to Book

Phone: 0845 606 1535
Fax:     0845 606 1539
Email: bookings@publicpolicyexchange.co.uk