e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Library rearrangements

I went to the Arts Council England website to have a look at what they say about literature.

Instead I got sidetracked by the discovery that they’ve taken over responsibility for libraries (and museums). Until this autumn there has been a government department called Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA). Now the Arts Council looks after the museums and libraries and the National Archives the archives.

I suppose it’s sort of silly to be saddened by the loss of a set-up I didn’t know existed, but I’ve been through these reorganisations myself and I know they’re generally unpleasant for the staff involved. I also know that programmes, funding and ideas can easily slip through the cracks between organisations.

I’m not convinced that the move is completely logical (except in its design of saving money). The Arts Council is involved in the creative side of culture, while museums and libraries both preserve rather than create.

(I know! I know! there’s creativity in the presentation of museum displays and library services, but they’re of a different sort and can’t be defined as ‘arts’.)

But the Arts Council has many years experience in developing, encouraging and paying for culture. Logical or not I expect the new arrangement will be successful. Whether it’ll save money, only time will tell.


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