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Sunday 3 November 2013

What is the Statutory Library Duty

As an aside this Sunday morning, something no one seemed to pick up on during the libraries controversy was that the Bailey case seemed to clarify the nature of the "comprehensive and efficient" duty to provide library services.  This is widely assumed to refer to printed materials and nothing else.

However, if you read paragraph 116 of the High Court judgement, you find the judge saying:

"In reality, a service which includes the provision of books and other materials by technology and goes beyond the loan of books or other physical items, or the provision of reading facilities on the printed page, falls within the scope of s7, which is not confined to the loan or use of physical items."

This view, in a judgement that was subsequently considered by the Court of Appeal and found sound seems very important to me.  "Section 7" is the part of the 1964 Act that refers to the "comprehensive and efficient" duty.

This seems to me to be rather different to the Secretary of State's view of the s7 duty expressed in her letter to Brent.  In that, she states that the provision of public access PCs is not part of the s7 duty. 

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