The Library and Information Co-operative Council (LINC) has responded to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) invitation to comment on 'The People's Lottery' White Paper. LINC welcomed the proposed New Opportunities Fund, pointed out the 'glaring omission' of Lottery funding for public library buildings, and supported proposals for a more planned approach to the allocation of Lottery funds.
LINC welcomed the proposal that the first three initiatives should be ICT training for 500,000 teachers and 10,000 library staff, out of school activities, and a network of healthy living centres. These proposals would provide an opportunity for public libraries to address the development of existing services.
The investments in ICT training and out of school activities were directly linked to the proposals to increase levels of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills outlined in the White Paper 'Excellence in Schools'. LINC welcomed the synergy between the two White Papers which underlined the role of public libraries in improving educational attainment standards through partnership working and opportunities for lifelong learning.
LINC also welcomed the inclusion of libraries in the proposed National Grid for Learning. Together with the Library and Information Commission's plan to network public libraries, the proposal would enormously improve access to the nation's cultural and information resources. The proposal to fund homework clubs in libraries was noted as another positive development. While many libraries had already established such clubs, the potential for expansion was crucially important. As 'Excellence in Schools' recognised, provision of such facilities in a non-formal education background could be more effective for some pupils.
Also welcomed was the suggested creation of Healthy Living Centres in a variety of locations. LINC pointed out that many libraries already provide and promote health living information, and the prospect of financial investment to improve and extend the existing range of activities was applauded.
However, LINC noted the 'glaring omission' in the White Paper of funding for the building of new libraries or the remodelling/refurbishing of existing premises. It pointed out that on numerous occasions local authorities, the Local Government Association, the Library Association and other bodies had drawn attention to the anomaly that whereas local authorities could bid for capital investment in galleries, museums, leisure centres, performing arts venues etc., the most popular cultural institution, the public library, was excluded. Furthermore, the impact of improved services funded by the New Opportunities Fund would be less effective if housed in buildings falling into disrepair.
LINC considered that the Lottery offered the potential to become a modern day Carnegie Foundation and urged Government to reconsider its position on capital funding and to take this 'golden opportunity' to create a public library infrastructure appropriate to the 21st century.
Proposals for a more planned approach to the allocation of Lottery funds were also welcomed by LINC. It proposed that Government might consider a role for the Library and Information Commission in co-ordinating and distributing Lottery project funding, similar to that of the Arts Council, the Sports Council and the Heritage Memorial Fund. LINC also drew attention to the geographical spread of the public library network and the popularity of the service which would enable it to play a major part in reaching more of the population and encouraging their involvement in the improved distribution of Lottery funds.
LIBRARY AND INFORMATION CO-OPERATION COUNCIL
PRESS RELEASE 17 OCTOBER 1997
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