Transforming Brent Libraries
About the Book
Public libraries continue to be an important and much loved public service. There are almost 3,000 public libraries in England run by 150 different authorities and spending about £800 million of public money. Almost half the population hold a library card . Why then is so little attention paid to how and why a public library service should be modernised? The transformation of Brent libraries was a successful example of public service reform leading to improved outcomes despite a drop in budgets of almost 20%. As such it has been praised by staff in other authorities as well as in government literature . Yet it was extraordinarily controversial. It generated a judicial review fought all the way to the Court of Appeal, attracting condemnation from a number of celebrities and national headlines. James Powney was at the heart of this successful library reform to turn a mediocre public library service into one of the most successful services in the UK. This book is arranged in four sections. The first is a description of getting the process passed, and through the subsequent Court proceedings. The second tackles some of the themes that came up in that process, in particular the failure of the “Big Society” to take off. The third is about what modern libraries can do and why they are important, contrary to what some people in the government argue. Finally, there is a short list of the lessons. learnt.