THE announcement from Culture Secretary Chris Smith that public libraries are to improve their services is welcome news for local communities (TES, May 19).

The strength of response to any threats to close public libraries illustrates the willingness of local communities to get involved.

In New York over 20,000 people volunteer to run story groups, reading circles, computer lessons and re-shelve books. Thanks to their ivolvement, libraries are open longer and more often. As a result, many more people make use of the facilities for life-long learning and social inclusion.

Not only should libraries be open at least 45 hours each week, but national standards should include targets for citizen involvement.

Elisabeth Hoodless

Executive director

CSV (Community Service Volunteers)

237 Pentonville Road

London N1

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