EDUCATION SECRETARY OPENS KEIGHLEY'S CENTRAL LIBRARY
The role of public libraries in educational, cultural and community activities was stressed by Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Education Secretary, at the opening of the modernised Keighley Central Library today (21 July). Mrs. Thatcher said:
“Library services can play a significant role in extending cultural activities locally, especially when, as in Keighley, they are guided by a committee responsible for all leisure and cultural activities.”
Summarising the changes and developments in library services over the last ten years, Mrs. Thatcher said there was substantial evidence of progress made. “The total number of issues of books from public libraries in England and Wales is in the order of 600m. Expenditure on the public library service has grown to about £60m., nearly half of which goes on salaries and wages, and just over a quarter on books and other materials, while the rest is taken up mainly by the current and capital costs of premises. Many new library buildings have been put up in the past decade, and the number of posts for qualified librarians has risen by nearly a half. In the past decade expenditure on the library service has about doubled and so has the use of books, with the use of books sometimes running ahead faster than the rise in expenditure. The fact that the use of books increased faster than the number of posts for library personnel is a significant and welcome indication of growing efficiency in the public library service. Library books are now supplemented by such things as gramophone records, tapes, microtexts, films, photo copies and prints. Rather more than a third of all public library authorities are now providing gramophone records and some lend original paintings or reproductions.”
Earlier Mrs. Thatcher referred to the public library service and the education service as complementary. “When people have been taught to read and their interests aroused in external events and a variety of activities, they need every chance to develop and extend their interests through wider reading. Reading is important to further knowledge, to extend cultural development, and simply as a pleasurable leisure activity. Learning to read is the basis of the whole educational process. [end p1] A sizeable minority of pupils in secondary education have difficulties with learning, including in many cases difficulties in learning to read. Last year I asked secondary schools to give more attention to the needs of these slow learners, and I hope they are doing so.”
Mrs. Thatcher went on to consider the impact on the public library services of the reorganisation of local government, which would provide both a challenge and an opportunity. “Library services will often need to be reshaped to suit the requirements of both urban and rural communities. The new larger authorities with their larger resources will be able to provide a more comprehensive range of services, but it will continue to be important to build on local knowledge and experience. My Department's library advisers have been paying particular attention to the kinds of problem which will arise in South and West Yorkshire as a result of local government reorganisation, and shortly they will be offering detailed advice to the local authorities concerned. It is also hoped to give a wider circulation as soon as possible to those of their conclusions which are of more general interest, and which might be of help to library authorities which are facing similar problems elsewhere. We want to make sure that the reorganisation of local government is a stimulus and not a temporary stumbling-block to the continued progress and development for public library service.”(2) Yorkshire Post, 22 July 1972 [end p2]
Mrs. Thatcher's debt
Opening a modernised public library yesterday, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary for Education, spoke of what she owed to public libraries.
“The library service is very closely linked to education, and I say this not as a matter of politics or local organisation, but very much from my own experience,” said Mrs. Thatcher.
“I owe a very great deal of my education to a library being available for regular reading.”
Mrs. Thatcher, who was opening Keighley's modernised central library, said that it might have been thought that with the increasing popularity of television the library service would not be as well used.
“But this is not the case. In the past decade expenditure on the library service has about doubled and so has the use of books, with the use of books sometimes running ahead faster than the rise in expenditure,” she said.
Mrs. Thatcher was welcomed by the Mayor of Keighley, Ald. W. A. Proom, and was thanked by Coun. Mrs. B. Crabtree, chairman of the Leisure and Cultural Committee.
Later she visited the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth and the Cliffe Castle, Museum, Keighley.