§ Mr. Don Foster
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what initiatives the Government have introduced to promote(a)reading and (b) library usage (i) in England and (ii) at a local level; at what cost; what promotional techniques and media were used; and if she will make a statement. 1388W
§ Estelle Morris
In February 2003, DCMS published Framework for the Future, the first-ever national public libraries strategy. "Framework" reflects a 10 year vision to improve public libraries, affirming that reading and learning are at the heart of libraries' modern mission. "Framework" identified many good practice examples in libraries and proposed a strategy to build on this excellence to improve services delivered by all libraries in England. DCMS and Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) are taking the strategy forward through a three-year action plan, which is on the MLA website: www.mla.gov.uk.
Considerable work has been done in this area. Examples of some of the specific schemes to promote reading include: Book start, which DCMS has funded with £500,000, over the last two financial years, which provides reading books and a libraries card for babies; a Quality Index fiction tool, that is being developed in conjunction with the Audit Commission and Arts Council England to help authorities identify the quality of their stock and a joint DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Fund to which DCMS has contributed £4 million, over two years, for reader development projects. Arts Council England also support a number of reader development programmes through public libraries.
Very nearly all of England's over 3,000 libraries have been connected to the internet through the £100 million lottery funded People's Network programme. The early indications are that the People's Network has increased the number and types of people that use our public libraries.