Despite my anger at the rather large back office and management costs in my local library authority. I was shocked when my "They work for you" Ed Vaizey alert came through today because he had answered a question in the house on staffing at the DCMS.
I find this really, really shocking but for the 151 library authorities the DCMS currently only has four full time staff members and one part-time (the new guy I guess). We know poor Dempster probably spends his day batting back campaigners emails but this means the minister has each person watching roughly 33.5 of the 151 library authorities. No wonder they have to rely on public library news, they don't have enough staff in the DCMS on libraries to realistically have a handle on what is going on. Even if you take E-Vaizey at his word and the Arts Council have some responsibility to superintend, they are being culled hard and are working on the pointless "Envisioning the future of the library service" and administering the six million of funding for arts projects in libraries, also pointless and misguided in the current decimation of libraries in my opinion. Even if their 5 library relationship managers they have left were not working on this stuff and were full time making sure along with the DCMS that the 1964 act was being enforced this would still leave each person with 15.8 library authorities to monitor.
I'm all for small, efficient back office spending in whitehall but this really shows, in my opinion that the ministers in the DCMS don't know and don't care what is happening in libraries. Considering the library spend across these authorities is somewhere in the region of one billion, you would imagine they would have a few more staff to ensure libraries are comprehensive and efficient. This is probably why most library authorities are neither, nobody is looking.