Tag Archives: Flanders

Library policy in Flanders II

Situation in near future

Two different important changes:

  • In Flanders, we basically have three different policy levels: the municipalities, the provinces and the Flemish government. But there will be a change in the relations between the three policy levels.The basic idea is that in every aspect of policy making only two levels can define the decisions. This principle has the intention to advance the autonomy of local governments in their policymaking.
    In case of the libraries, there will be an exception mainly because of the library catalogue systems which are supported by the provinces. So, we maintain three policy levels.
  • Flemish government wants to reduce the fact that local governments need to justify their funding and wants to reduce the bureaucratic system. One important aspect is the introduction of one strategic policy plan for every municipality instead of policy plans for every sector.
    Another aspect is the new strategy of policy priorities instead of the current ways of funding. In the future, we cannot longer determine the type of subsidies or the organizational structure of the local government. We can only subsidize the municipalities for activities, achievements or effects. For example: we cannot longer give subsidies for library staff, but we can give subsidies for reducing the digital divide (of course libraries need staff to achieve this mission). How exactly libraries accomplish this mission is no longer the responsibility for the Flemish government, but will completely be in the hands of local governments.

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Library policy in Flanders I

Situation Now
Local cultural policy decree, including public libraries since 2001.
With this Decree, the Flemish government aims to stimulate an integral local cultural policy. Local authorities are assigned a large role in policy making and are responsible for their cultural policy. The Decree includes obligations in the areas of participation and consultation (cultural council) and public libraries.

Every municipality is obliged to have a public library. Other issues in the decree are optional: drawing up or carrying out a cultural policy plan, cultural centres or community centres and inter-municipal cooperation. Municipalities can receive financial support from the Flemish government. Flemish government subsidizes the library staff and local governments also have the possibility to receive a subsidy from the Flemish government for their integration in the regional or national catalogue.
Other costs like infrastructure, collections or ICT are mainly subsidized by the municipalities themselves.

Maarten Vandekerckhove