Friday, 23 November 2012

We don't measure our success by results but by activity

I have been chasing the DCMS to get some information on what E-Vaizey meant when he said in the house of commons:

 "A £6 million fund has been provided by the Arts Council, which is now responsible for superintending and promoting the library service"

The very nice Mr M from the DCMS responded (I put in the bold text):

“Dear Mr Craig,
Thank you for your email of 14 November to the Department about the supervision of library 
services. I have been asked to reply.The Minister’s comment about the Arts Council was reference to the responsibilities they assumed in October 2011 for the development of public libraries.
As I mentioned in my letter of 13 November, The Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Maria Miller 
MP, has a duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to superintend the 
delivery of library services by local authorities and to ensure that public library authorities in 
England provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service in accordance with their statutory 
duties under the 1964 Act”

Which as far as I can tell means they are standing up what E-Vaizey said.  It might just be me being a bit thick but the act clearly states:

“From the commencement of this Act it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales,”

So according to Ed both the secretary of state and the Arts Council are responsible for superintending and promoting the library service.

The MLA’s Roy Clare CBE clearly thought it had some responsibility as the comment Shirley added on one of my other posts says. ACE doesn’t though have the statutory duty or the resource to superintend and promote libraries. It’s responsibility of the minister and the DCMS. I have come to the conclusion that either E-Vaizey is a massive idiot with a single digit IQ or he is deliberately trying to obfuscate so when he and his department are finally brought to account over their/his inaction he can do what all politicians do, pretend to forget stuff and say the issue is confused.

I have been quite critical of the Arts Councils Envisioning the future of libraries project being just an exercise in creative inertia. They are being cut hard and are going to be even more ineffective will incapable of supervising or promoting an egg and spoon race never mind 150 library authorities. The whole useless churn of initiatives, reports, hand wringing and jargon laden nonsense that passes for informing the policy and decisions making process continues and while they are all busy in the Westminster bubble arguing about who runs what, in the real world the library service IS being decimated and those paid to protect it are failing.

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