Manifesto for Libraries for the General Election 2015


The Speak up for Libraries alliance is urging people everywhere to make public libraries a central issue in the General Election – and local elections.


Support for libraries overdue



Already, many library services are threatened by, or already experiencing, deep cuts, widespread closures of vital local branches – or the damaging policy of turning them over to volunteers to run.

This is a once-in-five-years chance to make sure central government understands that libraries are a low-cost, essential resource for the work of local councils, and for national agendas such as ‘Digital by Default’ – and deeply valued by local residents and the nation as a whole.

Yet the Government continues to cut the grants given to local authorities, meaning that although libraries are a statutory service, they are often seen as a soft target for savings. Such cuts often save little, but do great damage.

If people wait another five years, their own library could go.

Nationally a postcode lottery will become a reality, with only some communities benefiting from the presence of a council funded and professionally run library.

Libraries remain the lynchpin of communities, offering access to learning, reading, information and enjoyment.

Libraries are, or should be, a trusted public space for everyone.

They play a crucial role in improving literacy standards and in combating the digital divide.

Speak up for Libraries believes that libraries, far from being obsolete, are more important than ever. That is why we are asking the government to make a public commitment to their survival and development.


Support for libraries overdue

Speak up for Libraries is asking MPs to sign up to the following manifesto when standing for election:

  • Give libraries a long-term future, with a vision for their future development and clear standards of service.

  • Enforce the commitment in law for local authorities to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service. This commitment should also include digital, ICT and e-book services.

  • Acknowledge that libraries are important to individuals and communities – especially in times of hardship.

  • Enforce the duty that local authorities have to properly consult with communities to design services that meet their needs and aspirations.

  • Ensure that local authorities receive sufficient funding in order to deliver properly resourced and staffed library services.

  • Recognise that properly resourced library services contribute to the health and well-being of local communities and of society as  a whole and therefore complement the work of other public services and of national government agendas.

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Download a copy of the manifesto here: SUFL – GENERAL ELECTION 2015 manifesto




2015 Elections – This year there will be a General Election on 7 May; on the same day in England direct elections are to be held in all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 194 second-tier districts, 49 unitary authorities, as well as for various mayoral posts.

Decisions on policy and funding for public libraries in the devolved countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are made by their own assemblies/parliaments. Therefore those seeking election to Westminster will have no say on library provision in their own countries.

Library closures:

– Statistics produced by CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy) show that in the five years up to April 2014, 330 public libraries (including mobile libraries) have been closed.

– Since April 2014, Public Library News reports that 233 static libraries have been put under threat of closure/passing to volunteers. 8 mobile libraries under threat. 11 libraries (3 static and 8 mobile) libraries closed, 9 libraries passed to volunteers. 1 entirely new volunteer-run library.

Local government funding and expenditure:

– There was a 33% real term cut to government funding of local government in England between 2011- 2015 (Comprehensive Spending Review 20112-2015)

– A further 10% cut to Government’s Core Funding of local government in England planned in 2015/2016 (Spending Review 2016-2016)

– Additional funding cuts are widely expected in 2016-2018

In a press release issued by the Local Government Association on announcement of the 2015/2016 Spending review, Sir Merrick Cockell, Local Government Association Chairman, is quoted as saying:, “… the fact remains that some councils will simply not have enough money to meet all their statutory responsibilities. Services such as culture and leisure facilities, school support, road maintenance and growth-related programmes will bear the brunt of these cuts.”

Support for libraries overdue

Twitter @SpeakUp4Libs

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Speak Up for Libraries Conference – 22 November – Don’t miss out! #SUFLconf14

Places still available, but booking quickly.

Don’t miss your chance to talk directly to the decision makers


Click here to book your place.



 Speak Up for Libraries are holding this year’s national conference on public libraries on 22 November in central London.  It will bring together local campaigners, union members, library users and library workers – and give them a rare chance to talk directly to the people who make the decisions at national level.

This is crunch year for public libraries, with a general election due and two major inquiries – one on England due soon and on Wales, just out.


After the close of the early bird booking on 24 October there are only a few remaining places available before maximum capacity is reached, so don’t delay booking. 



Helen Goodman MP (Labour shadow minister)
Justin Tomlinson MP (Conservative)
The Green Party spokesperson TBA
Lib Dem spokesperson TBA

Sue Charteris, panel member of the Sieghart Review in England
Claire Creaser, chair of the Welsh Review of the Public Library Service

Barbara Band, CILIP President, will open the Conference
Ian Anstice, editor of Public Libraries News, will chair the workshop feedback session
Alan Gibbons, author and library campaigner, will chair the panel debate



Full details are contained in the brochure, which you can download here. SUFLconf14 leaflet

Please download and share copies for those not online, to help spread the word.

Programme rev Nov 14


Book your place online on our Eventbrite page.

All bookings include refreshments and lunch.

£25 per person.

For queries or help to book a place, please call  020 8651 9552.




Facebook: Speak Up for Libraries

Twitter: @SpeakUp4Libs

And the hashtag for this event is #SUFLconf14
Since 1 April 2013, 693 professionally managed libraries (static or mobile) have already been lost in this way or remain under threat (out a UK total of c.4,265). Yet further damage is predicted as local authorities plan for further significant reductions in their funding.* This has major implications. Public libraries – especially small branches in deprived communities – are a vital resource for families, pre-schoolers, students, older people, benefits claimants, job seekers and all who need internet access, books, information and the essentials for citizenship. Properly staffed public libraries are irreplaceable, and cost very little to run.
  • Statistics produced by CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy) show a net loss of 212 libraries or mobile libraries in the UK in 2011-12, and 71 in 2012-13.
  • Public Libraries News estimates that in 2013-14, 491 libraries (including mobile libraries) were closed, or scheduled for closure, or became volunteer-managed.
  • Since April 2014, Public Libraries News reports that 202 libraries (including mobile libraries) are threatened with closure, have closed or will be handed over to volunteers
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2012 Speak Up For Libraries Conference Outcomes

Following on from the success of our Parliamentary lobby day in March, Speak Up For Libraries held a successful conference in central London on 10 November 2012 to champion public library services and library staff. The day-long event pulled together library campaigners and supporters from across the UK and gave them the opportunity to build on existing campaigning skills and tactics, share ideas and strategies, and focus on a way forward to make their local campaign as effective as possible, with the goal of ensuring library services are supported and protected, now and in the future.

The following presentations were given at the conference.

This video was also filmed during the conference.

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