Gloucestershire County Council is potentially giving unlawful advice to local groups which intend to run so-called community libraries in the county. Having been challenged by the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries as to whether Public Lending Right, the scheme by which authors are paid for books lent from public libraries, is to apply to non-statutory volunteer run and funded community libraries in the county, head of libraries, Sue Laurence has now replied that PLR will apply (email 5 July 2012).
This, however, directly contradicts advice from PLR itself which states that
“PLR would only NOT apply were a library branch to be closed by the local authority and reopened under new management by a voluntary or other group entirely independent of the local authority”.
This is the case in Gloucestershire where the council has stated on many occasions that so-called community libraries will be outside their network of libraries and will not be part of the council’s statutory library provision.
Chair of FOGL, Johanna Anderson said, “From the beginning, the county council has simply been making up as it goes along its advice to volunteer groups. This is another example. We have asked the council to show us any advice they have received from PLR and DCMS, and they are refusing to do so. We can only guess at the reasons why.”
“The council has already been found guilty once in the High Courts of ignoring the law. This may well be another example”