Opinion

Libraries give us power. The next government must trust libraries to continue delivering for communities

The CEO of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has a message for the new government

A long library stack shows rows of books on both left and right.

Libraries are about more than just their books. Image credit: Paul Lowry

Whichever party forms our next government, we at CILIP, the library and information association have a simple pledge, to them and to the public – trust libraries.

Not only are librarians the third most trusted profession according to the annual Ipsos Veracity Report, but they and other information and knowledge professionals are vital to MPs delivering every single political pledge in their manifestos – including how to help the one in five people living in poverty, as highlighted in Big Issue’s Blueprint for Change.

The core services that this profession provides underpin any politician’s ability to deliver on their promises, even if they don’t always realise it. We deliver information that politicians, the public, business and public sector leaders, and everyone else can actually trust.

That trustworthy information reinforces an individual’s decision-making – whether that’s how to assess which party to vote for, which course a learner should study, which business start-up idea is most promising, or which policy is most likely to be effective to tackle the hardest issues of our times.

Libraries and library staff champion your right to read whatever you want, and the intellectual freedom to make your own mind up about it. This profession is guided by a strong ethical framework, not by personal preferences. It’s not our job to defend a particular book, but to defend your ability to read it if you want.

Librarians also enable learning for people of all ages at the heart of our communities and institutions, from high streets to online, from prisons to schools, and from universities to colleges.

Libraries are a driver of social mobility by supporting different types of ‘literacies’ including reading, health, financial, data, media, and digital.

We really appreciate the support Big Issue is giving libraries, and we agree with the blueprint’s vision for libraries as key community hubs including for the most isolated and vulnerable in our society.    

Libraries are an open and welcoming gateway to our culture, and all the creativity and inspiration that it offers. They’re a warm space for those unable to heat their homes – or without homes at all – during this ongoing cost of living crisis.

So that’s why you – and the next government – can trust libraries for what they do, and you can trust them to continue to deliver – whatever the political makeup of the next government.

We hope you’ll support our pledge by sharing that message because all this value can only be unlocked with sustained investment and a professionally trained workforce.

Louis Coiffait-Gunn is CEO of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? Get in touch and tell us moreBig Issue exists to give homeless and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy of the magazine or get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

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