The Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964 is the law that makes public libraries a statutory service. A service which is defined as statutory is one that legally must be supplied by the authority concerned. By these terms councils must:
Provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons in the area that want to make use of it (section 7)
Promote the service (section 7(2)(b))
Lend books and other printed material free of charge for those who live, work or study in the area (section 8(3)(b))
So serious is this legislation that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) can take action where a local authority fails to perform its duties (section 10) The statutory duties imposed by the Act are important because it enables the government to hold councils to account. Yet despite this, libraries are being closed down as part of government cuts. 201 libraries, including mobile vans, closed down in 2011-12. Confused? You should be.
Now before you start mithering that libraries in Nottingham haven’t closed down yet, calm down. It’s only an abookalypse. Unread authors are a right sensitive lot and think prevention is better than cure. So consider this a Roadmap to Peace (that’s Charlie to you). Not to mention Bendigo, Sillitoe, Reville, Howitt, Lawrence, Byron Clough, Trease, the 5th Duke of Portland, the Gotham Fool, Ms Hood and Rawicz.
Nottingham is a city that has always bucked trends and so we should be proud that we have so far held on to our libraries and not suffered the severe cuts felt elsewhere across the country. But this is an ongoing battle and one that can only be won if people continue to use them. So dig out your library card and loan out a book. Simples.