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Complainant Name:
Sir Andrew Motion

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Daily Mail


Sir Andrew Motion, chair of the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had published inaccurate and misleading information about remarks made in an email by the Chief Executive of the MLA, Roy Clare.


The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following correction and letter:

Roy Clare

A report on 15 Jan reported claims that Roy Clare, Chief Executive of the Council for Museums, Libraries and Archives held the view that libraries are "only for the middle class". We accept that Mr Clare believes libraries are for everyone and are happy to set the record straight. Letters.


Public library services (Mail) are changing. Local councils have less cash following the banking crisis but the economic climate is only one factor. There's also pressure from population changes and from technology as consumers can choose books cheaply on-line and in supermarkets. The internet is enabling instant access to more information than was ever imaginable.

Despite this, demand for library services remains strong and many local councils are providing attractive modern services. The best aren't solely building-based but are linked with schools, colleges, universities, community centres, job centres, GPs' surgeries and high street shops.

Britain needs a well-educated, informed and creative population but we struggle to place higher than 20th in world education ranking. An efficient library service can play a crucial role in spreading the habit of enjoyable reading, strengthening knowledge and updating skills, delivering benefits for national prosperity.

Reading is as popular as ever but the country has a literacy problem. One in six people can't read and write well enough to get by. Too many talented children begin school struggling to read because they've never seen a book. Too many young people leave school barely literate. Low attainment has serious social and economic consequences: and local libraries can help overcome shortcomings in formal education.

At heart, libraries are about finding books, reading materials and information, conveniently and free. The first challenge is to get library services to the places and people with the greatest need but an increasing number of people of all backgrounds need safe spaces for study and discovery, places where communities can gather, converse and bond. Universal access is vital.

With less money, councils must explore ways to deliver what people want. The scope of provision is rightly determined by local people through their elected councillors. Situations vary but everyone wants attractive spaces in the right places, well stocked and equipped with the internet and other services. Working with local councils, MLA experts offer advice combining progress with preservation. Change can be unpopular but the future strength of library services depends on improvements being made along the way. Consulting on well thought-out plans for re-designed services is better than making savings by delivering less, cutting book stocks or opening hours.

The best defence of a comprehensive, free library service is to ensure it adapts to popular demand, with its priorities focused on those who need it most. Councils and communities must work together to resolve this challenge.

Roy Clare
Chief Executive


Date Published: 12/04/2011

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