Department for Culture Media and Sport


Individual public library services are delivered by 151 library authorities in England. In 2011-12, those authorities invested £820 million in the 3,243 public libraries in England.

What we do

We are responsible for national library policy and work closely with Arts Council England on a range of issues.

On 28 June 2012, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, set out the Government's current work in supporting public libraries and an outline of the challenge ahead.

This set out his vision for a future where:

  • The Arts Council acts as a development agency for libraries;
  • Libraries can access funds and support from the Arts Council
  • Poorly performing authorities are identified and helped to improve;
  • Key initiatives can be taken forward by central government, such as wi-fi or automatic enrolment for school children;
  • Government and local authorities understand what a vital resource libraries are across a whole range of activities.

This work programme takes place within the context that libraries are a local service – free to serve their local community, to innovate and adapt to local needs.

On 26 September 2012, Mr Vaizey launched a review of e-lending in England (read the review's terms of reference). The panel is expected to report back in the New Year.

British Library

We sponsor the British Library, the UK’s national deposit library. We and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills are co-signatories of the British Library Funding Agreement.

Public Lending Right

We also sponsor the Public Lending Right (PLR). This organisation pays authors for copies of their books lent by public libraries. The PLR Funding Agreement sets out their priorities and how they will deliver. On 14 October 2010, we announced that we propose to transfer the administration of the PLR fund to another existing body. The right of authors to receive payment when their books are borrowed from public libraries will continue. A public consultation about the proposed transfer of the PLR functions to another body ended on 30 July 2012.

Responsibility for archives has transferred to the National Archives.