Public Library Spending on Books Falls Short of Official Guidelines; RESEARCH: Some Councils Spend 20p per Resident Rather Than the Advisory Pounds 2

Article excerpt

BRITAIN'S libraries are short of books and some local authorities are spending less than the Government-recommended amounts to stock shelves, a new report claimed yesterday.

Research carried out for the National Book Committee (NBC) found that spending on books in public libraries fell well short of the pounds 2.01 per resident guidelines.

Some councils are even spending as little as 20p per resident, the NBC said.

Tim Rix, chairman of the NBC, an umbrella group for the book industry that includes the Library Association, called for urgent action.

"There is not at present any substitute for the wealth and range of information that is available to education via books and the printed word, " he said.

"While websites are a great way of promoting books, the book is still the best way to get information."

The study coincides with World Book Day yesterday, which is designed to promote reading and literacy across the globe.

Among the report's findings, the NBC said school libraries were spending less than a quarter of what was required to provide an adequate collection of books for their pupils.

The report pointed out that spending on books for school library services was "sinking" and several services have been closed.

Spending on books per student by university libraries has also been reduced by 13pc and expenditure on journals and periodicals has been more than halved.

Meanwhile, the budget of Britain's largest, most comprehensive library, the British Library, in London, has been frozen, the study said.

Mr Ross said the NBC welcomed Government initiatives to raise reading standards and access to information, particularly through online resources. …