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Office of Public Sector Information

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Public Libraries’ Access Scheme

Report on Public Access Scheme Funding

The Office of Public Sector Information has published its annual report about how the Public Access Scheme funding was deployed in 06/07, to improve the citizen’s access to legislative and other official publications.

New changes to the Public Libraries' Access Scheme

As a result of the public consultation in 2004 on options to improve our delivery of legislative services, from 1st October 2005 Public Library Subsidy (PLS) will be removed from print legislation that is available on the official legislation website at www.opsi.gov.uk.

By removing subsidy on print legislation funding will be released to invest in the development of online legislative material. This is a direct response to the demands of users and libraries to upgrade and improve OPSI's existing online legislative services and searching. It reflects the changing preferences of users to download and copy and the growth in online take-up of legislation. The consultation recognised that the official annual bound volumes serve as a permanent record of the statute book and provide a number of additional editorial features. For that reason the annual bound volumes of Public General Acts, Acts of the Scottish Parliament and Annual Editions of Statutory Instruments, Scottish Statutory Instruments, the Chronological Tables of the Statutes and the various Northern Ireland Annual Statutory Publications will still attract subsidy at 50% as at present.

Correspondence sent to the library community in September 2005 updating them on these changes is available:

A report on these changes was published on 19 June 2006:

What is the Public Libraries’ Access Scheme?

All local authority funded public libraries are eligible to receive a subsidy on official publications. The subsidy is given to facilitate public access to parliamentary, and government materials and legislation that is not available on the official legislation website at www.opsi.gov.uk.

Who qualifies for the Scheme?

The scheme is available to local authority funded public libraries in the United Kingdom. Orders placed by a local authority’s central acquisitions unit will also qualify for the scheme, provided that the publications are for use by the local authority’s own public libraries.

What is the rate of subsidy?

The rate of subsidy is 50% of the invoiced price, net of any commercial discount offered by the supplier, excluding VAT.

The amount of subsidy available is cash-limited, and payment may be suspended if the demand for subsidy on qualifying publications in any one financial year exceeds the total annual budget. We will give you as much notice as possible in this eventuality.

Which publications are eligible for subsidy under the Scheme?

The Scheme covers the following publications:

* The removal of subsidy applies to all legislation available online. Where material is not available online because it pre-dates the online archives then that legislation will attract subsidy. A full list of legislation that will no longer attract subsidy is available (see Letter explaining changes to PLAS).

The purpose of the scheme is to facilitate access to legislation and to Parliamentary and government materials, by making relevant publications available to public libraries at 50% of the purchase price. It follows, therefore, that publications, which do not satisfy this purpose, will not attract the subsidy. For example, publications intended solely or mainly for recreational purposes, or comprising material of a cultural nature, are excluded.

Qualifying publications bought on subscription terms are eligible under the scheme on subscription price only. Blanket subscription orders, such as selected subscription services currently offered by The Stationery Office Limited are eligible provided that the service covers only qualifying publications.

How does a public library obtain the subsidy?

There are two ways a library can claim the subsidy:

Subsidy provided at source

When a library purchases official publications from one of the following suppliers they will be invoiced at cover or subscription price less 50% public library subsidy.

** Subscriptions to the FRILLS leaflet service have been included to the Public Libraries Access Scheme on a trial basis for the financial year 2007/2008. Any local authority public library which has already taken a subscription to FRILLS from 1 April 2007 and that have been invoiced in full can apply direct to OPSI for a 50% subsidy following the instructions below.

Claim direct from the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)

A library purchases the publication at full price from its preferred supplier and submits a claim form (Word - 98 KB) to OPSI attaching copies of the invoices showing the price paid. On receipt of the claim OPSI refunds the subsidy to the library.

For any subsidy given at source, OPSI reserves the right to make periodic or spot audit checks by asking the recipient libraries to verify the details of orders on which discount has been given.

Is there a time limit on when public libraries can make claims?

Claims for subsidy direct from OPSI must be submitted within 3 months of the date of the invoice from the supplier. Claims received by OPSI outside this time scale will not be accepted.

What happens if I have a query on which publications are eligible?

Responsibility for policy and administration of the scheme lies with OPSI. A supplier who provides the subsidy at source will be happy to advise you on which of its publications are covered by the scheme. The final decision on eligibility of a particular publication rests with OPSI. If a library is in any doubt about eligibility, OPSI will be pleased to advise. For more information please contact the OPSI Business Support team.

Public Libraries’ Access Scheme contacts

Queries on policy, scope and administration of the Scheme:

Mark Ardron
Tel: 020 8392 5330 ex. 2511
Fax: 020 8395 5386

Queries on eligibility of publications and processing of claims:

Inderjit Mann
Tel: 020 3334 2777
Fax: 020 8487 1983