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UK Library Association responds to Boris Johnson’s comments on the Andrew Marr Show

CILIP, the UK’s Library and Information Association has responded to comments made by Conservative leader Boris Johnson during his interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday 1st December.

In the interview, Mr Johnson said “I love libraries” and commented that, “I’m afraid very often local authorities - and yes we want to be spending more and want to be supporting local authorities - but some local authorities have been able to manage their finances so as to open libraries. I want to invest in opening libraries but we can only do that if we get the economy motoring.”

Responding to these comments, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, commented, “We are delighted that following determined lobbying by CILIP and others, libraries are finally part of our national political debate.

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have commented on the need to invest in public libraries in the past week, helping to shine a light on the value of libraries and librarians at the heart of communities everywhere and the need to rebuild after 10 years of austerity. We were pleased to see mentions of libraries in Manifesto commitments from the Labour Party, Conservatives, The Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.

However, Mr Johnson’s comments on the Andrew Marr Show include three key misconceptions, which we are keen to correct."

General Election 2019 Party Manifestos In Review

Access to quality library services is one of the most transformative investments our society could make.

Which is why we’ve been working with Bobby Seagull to launch our ‘Manifesto for Libraries’ calling on the Government to “recognise the opportunity to transform lives across the UK by investing in the future of our libraries.”

Our campaign to encourage all candidates to #VoteLibraries has resulted in messages of solidarity and support from across the political spectrum. So how has this support translated into the Party Manifestos?

Local Cultural Enrichment and Public Libraries

Public libraries are natural cultural hubs for the communities they serve. In fact, libraries are often the first point of contact for children and young people with the arts, whether it is through reading books, attending performances, or learning how to create their own art.

Labor Manifesto Includes Libraries - #VoteLibraries

CILIP, the UK’s Library and Information Association, has welcomed the commitment in the Labour Party’s 2019 General Election manifesto to secure the long-term future of public libraries.

The Manifesto commits a potential future Labour Government to support improved funding and library standards - two key areas on which CILIP and others have been lobbying through the #VoteLibraries campaign (

Public Libraries, Literacy, and (Re)Building a Nation of Readers

Reading for pleasure is a time-honoured pastime dating back to the Georgian period, when books became widely available to the general public for the first time via industrial mass publication and the advent of lending libraries. With a focus on literacy as a tool for both moral and social improvement, England soon thereafter became a nation of readers, bolstered by the official establishment of public libraries in 1852.

Write Your Candidate about #VoteLibraries

The #VoteLibraries campaign asks library supporters across the UK to take the pledge to support candidates who will put libraries on the agenda in Westminster. If you believe that libraries matter in our communities, please take the next step and tell your candidates what you want to see in your constituency. We have made it easy to let your parliamentary candidates know how central their support for libraries is this election. Please take a moment to send them a message. It’s quick, free and easy to use Who Can I Vote For to send your message today. 

#VoteLibraries Campaign Launches

A new campaign, led by CILIP, the library and information association, is calling on politicians to put local communities at the heart of their election campaigns. The #VoteLibraries campaign enables members of the public to pledge their support for their local library services and put pressure on the candidates in their area to commit to sustainable, long term investment for local library services.

The campaign is supported by the recent joint report from CILIP and The Big Issue; Public Libraries: The case for support, which draws on research and evidence from the British Library, Carnegie UK Trust, CIPFA and others to highlights the positive impact of libraries on their users, communities, locality and local economy.

Great School Libraries Report Released

National Survey Results - School Librarians deliver their report card to Education Minister Nick Gibb

The joint CILIP/SLG/School Library Association campaign #GreatSchoolLibraries took a great leap forward last week with the launch of the first comprehensive research report into the state of school library provision across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (in parallel with and drawing on the fantastic progress already made in Scotland).

Key findings include:

  • 9 in 10 schools in England that participated in the research have access to a designated library space, falling to 67% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland, however;
  • Schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have access to a designated library space;
  • Employment terms for librarians and library staff fall below national standards, with low pay and little investment in professional development and training.

Commenting on the publication of the research, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP said, “We welcome this landmark report as the first comprehensive picture of the state of play in our school libraries. On the one hand, it is a testament to the Head Teachers, Teachers, Governors and Librarians that value and promote the importance of school libraries for learners and their school. On the other hand, the research paints a picture of inequality of access and opportunity and insecure employment that we cannot accept. The findings highlight the urgency of securing national School Library Strategies and investments."  

The Great School Libraries 'Phase 1' Report goes on to show that "[t]he evidence we have uncovered of significant inequality of provision in different Nations and between the independent and non-independent sectors points to a clear picture of inequality of opportunity – in turn, impacting on social mobility in disadvantaged communities. Our findings also highlight a disturbing trend of undervaluing school library staff as an integral part of the life of the school. We need to work with Heads, Governors and Leadership Teams to ensure that school librarians are employed under better terms and that their skills are properly recognised in terms of salary. We also need to ensure that schools invest in the CPD of their library staff to ensure that they continue to maintain their professional skills."


"Ahead stands a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build on our successes and address structural weaknesses in school library provision, ensuring that every child can benefit from a great school library, now and in the future."
- Great School Libraries 'Phase 1' Report (2019)

Join the campaign to show that Libraries Deliver in schools and communities by signing up now

The Great School Libraries Report launch event began with an ‘Insights Evening’ held at Hachette UK, which included contributions from Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell as well as Chris Riddell and a number of luminaries from the world of school libraries, books and reading. The main launch, the following day, received extensive press and media coverage, including:

The coverage provides a great platform for us to press for the next stage of political engagement, which is to secure support from the Department for Education for the development of a National School Libraries Strategy with investment and support from Ofsted.

Read the report and see the photographs at

Report: Public Libraries, The Case for Support

At a Parliamentary event at the House of Lords today, The Big Issue and Library Champion Bobby Seagull will join forces with CILIP, the UK library association, to make the case for long-term sustainable funding for libraries.

New £250 million Culture Investment Fund launched

Innovative cultural projects, libraries, museums and creative industries will benefit from £250m of new funding for the culture and creative sector, the Culture Secretary announced on October 12.