Press release

William Sieghart to chair panel to produce independent report on England’s public library service

Jointly commissioned report commissioned by the Culture Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

An independent report on the public library service in England has been commissioned from philanthropist, entrepreneur and publisher William Sieghart by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis.

The report has been jointly commissioned by the Culture Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Mr Sieghart will lead an expert panel (details below) to take evidence and report to ministers by the end of the year. Key questions for the panel to address include:

  • What are the core principles of a public library into the future?

  • Is the current model of delivery the most comprehensive and efficient? and

  • What is the role of community libraries?

Ed Vaizey said:

The public library service in England has served us extremely well for more than a century and continues to play a vital role in communities. Reports of its demise appear with weary predictability, but are entirely unfounded.

The English language and its literature are this country’s greatest contribution to world culture, and public libraries celebrate that fact. I look forward to seeing this expert panel’s report to ensure the service continues to flourish for generations to come.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis added:

Libraries are ‘literary’ great places. They recognise the importance of books and the unique status of the written word within our cultural heritage.

Libraries are also more than merely homes for books. They are community hubs, centres for arts outreach and innovation, places for kids to learn and adults to take evening classes. This report will help ensure that our libraries remain the cultural heartbeat of communities for years to come and remain a valuable frontline service provided by local authorities.

William Sieghart said:

“ I am delighted to have been invited by Ed and Brandon to consider the public library service. Together with my Advisory Panel, I am looking forward to considering the issues, and to hearing from the myriad range of stakeholders who have a responsibility and interest in this most valued of public services.”

A call for evidence has been issued today which seeks information by Friday 21 March.

Biographies of Panel Members

  • William Sieghart, Chair

Philanthropist, entrepreneur, publisher and the founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry. In 1986 William co-founded Forward Publishing, publishing magazines, children’s books and poetry books. He is the author of a best-selling book on golf, The Swing Factory. William also founded Big Arts Week and Street Smart, the initiative whereby diners give a percentage of their restaurant bill to the homeless. He was a member of Arts Council England 2000-2006, and was chair of its Lottery Panel. William is a Trustee of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Free Word Centre and Reprieve.

  • Sue Charteris

Director Equal Value, independent adviser on public policy, mentor and coach. Sue Charteris is a highly experienced Public Policy Consultant specialising in Local Government and Public Service Reform. She was Founder Director of Shared Intelligence consultancy and Chief Executive of Merton and Executive Director of Kirklees local authorities. For the past twelve years Sue has helped both local authorities and other public sector bodies with policy development and change management, and the creation of practitioner learning networks for knowledge exchange.

  • Janene Cox

President of the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) & Commissioner for Tourism & the Cultural County, Staffordshire County Council. Janene Cox began professional life as a librarian in the Central Library in Birmingham and has managed libraries in Northamptonshire and Staffordshire, where she became Head of Libraries in 2005. Janene is also a Trustee of the Reading Agency.

  • Luke Johnson

Chairman of Risk Capital Partners and a former Chairman of Channel 4 Television. Luke Johnson is Chairman of The Institute of Cancer Research. He served as Chairman of Channel 4 Television for six years until 2010. He is also Chairman/ owner of Patisserie Valerie and Gail’s bakeries. Previously he was Chairman of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce as well as being Chairman of PizzaExpress PLC in the 1990s. He writes a weekly essay in The Financial Times and has written a number of books on business.

  • Roly Keating

Chief Executive, The British Library. Roly took up the post of Chief Executive of the British Library in September 2012. Since then he has overseen a series of significant developments, including a move to large-scale digital collecting with the implementation of the Non-Print Legal Deposit regulations and the incorporation into the Library of the Public Lending Right service. Roly joined the Library after a long and successful career at the BBC, where his roles included Controller of BBC Two, Controller of BBC Four and Director of Archive Content, with editorial oversight of the BBC’s online services including BBC iPlayer.

  • Caroline Michel

Chief Executive Peters Fraser & Dunlop. Caroline Michel has been the CEO of PFD since 2007 and before that she headed up the William Morris Agency in London for three years. She has over 25 years of experience in the media industry and ran Vintage at Random House and Harper Press at Harper Collins. Until very recently she was a governor at the BFI and is now Chairman of the BFI Trust.

  • Stephen Page

Chief Executive Faber & Faber. Stephen Page began his career in bookselling before moving into publishing. In 1994 he joined Fourth Estate, becoming Managing Director in 2000. In 2001 he joined Faber as CEO and in 2006 Faber was named Publisher of the Year. He has been President of the Publishers’ Association and frequently writes and speaks on industry issues, especially the effects of fast-moving technological developments on authors and publishing.

  • Joanna Trollope OBE

Author. Novelist Joanna Trollope worked for the Foreign Office (1965-7) and held various teaching posts (1967-79), before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of 30 bestselling contemporary novels, and was awarded the Romantic Novelists Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

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