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Northern Ireland Equality Scheme - Section 75 Statutory Equality Duty

Statement by the Chairman of the British Library Board and by the Chief Executive of the British Library.

The British Library is fully committed to the fulfillment of the Section 75 obligations on the promotion of equality of opportunity and good relations. The Draft Equality Scheme sets out how the Library proposes to fulfill those obligations.

We will ensure that all staff of the British Library are conscious of the need to implement, review and monitor this scheme and we will give leadership within the Library to achieve this.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Eatwell of Stratton, Chairman, The British Library Board
Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive, The British Library


  1. Introduction
  2. Arrangements for assessing compliance
  3. Assessing the impact of policies
  4. Arrangements for monitoring policies
  5. Publication of assessments and monitoring
  6. Commitment
  7. Training
  8. Public access to information and services
  9. Timetable
  10. Publication of the scheme
  11. Complaints

Annex A - List of organisations to be consulted
Annex B - Main groups relevant to the Section 75 categories for Northern Ireland purposes
Annex C - Consultation on Draft Equality Scheme

1. Introduction

  1. The British Library was established by the British Library Act 1972 which provided for “the establishment for the United Kingdom of a national library, to be known as “the British Library”, consisting of a comprehensive collection of books, manuscripts, periodicals, films and other recorded matter, whether printed or otherwise.” Under the Act, the Library is under the control and management of the British Library Board, “whose duty it shall be to manage the Library as a national centre for reference, study and bibliographical and other information services, in relation both to scientific and technological matters and to the humanities.” The Library is bound to make its services available in particular to institutions of education and learning and to other libraries and industry. The Act also allows the Board to “lend any item, and make any part of their collections, or of their premises, available in connection with events of an educational, literary or cultural nature.” The Library has the status of a Non-Departmental Public Body and receives grant in aid from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

  2. The Library's mission statement declares:
    "The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. In the 250 years since its origin, it has built up the world’s finest single collection of books, journals, manuscripts, maps, printed music and sound recordings, covering all subject areas and in all known written languages.

    The British Library is the national published archive and a repository of world memory. It is a data store of global information. It provides access to its collection in support of scholarship, research and innovation and operates at the hub of the nation’s library network. The Library encourages wider public awareness of the national recorded heritage. Its programmes, products and services make a major contribution to the national economy and to research, education and the creative process. It enriches cultural life."

    Our mission is:
    Helping people advance knowledge to enrich lives.
    To achieve our mission we aim:
    • to ensure the comprehensive coverage, recording and preservation of the national published archive;
    • to ensure broad UK coverage, recording and preservation of research material from overseas;
    • to provide ready access to the Library’s collections and the world’s knowledge base for the researcher and business communities to underpin UK competitiveness and research excellence;
    • to promote wider understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the Library’s collections to the general public, schools and life-long learners;
    • to support the role of the national network of libraries in the UK and play an active role in the international network of libraries.
  3. Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (“the Act”) requires the British Library in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland, to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity:
    • between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;
    • between men and women generally;
    • between persons with a disability and persons without; and
    • between persons with dependants and persons without.
  4. In addition, without prejudice to its obligation above, the Library, in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland, should have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.
  5. Schedule 9 of the Act requires the Library to set out in an Equality Scheme how it proposes to fulfil the duties imposed by Section 75. This document is intended to fulfil that statutory requirement and relates to how the Library carries out all its functions, powers and duties relating to Northern Ireland.
  6. The British Library was established to provide services throughout the United Kingdom and has no special statutory or other functions, powers and duties relating to Northern Ireland. All of its functions are relevant to Northern Ireland but none is exclusively or specially so. It operates from sites in London and in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire and currently does not provide services from sites in other parts of the United Kingdom.
  7. In drawing up this Scheme, the Library has sought to identify those functions, powers and duties which would appear to warrant particular attention in relation to the provisions of the Act. It considers these to be:
    Reader Registration
    The policies and procedures under which individuals may apply for and, where appropriate, obtain access to the Library’s Reading Rooms in London and Boston Spa.
    Public programmes
    The programmes and products which the Library provides for the public, including schoolchildren and lifelong learners. These may be delivered via onsite activities in the Library's buildings or offsite, and increasingly via the web. They include schools activities, exhibitions, public events, professional training and visits programmes, a publications programme and the website itself.
    Co-operation and Partnership Programme
    This programme is promoting collaborative working between the Library and other libraries (and between libraries, archives and museums) throughout the UK in the development of arrangements for collecting and making accessible library materials, for the preservation and retention of such materials to ensure long-term access, and for their identification and location. In support of these aims, the Library is currently making grants through competitive Calls for Proposals for practical collaborative projects in these areas to a wide range of libraries and other organisations holding documentary and audio-visual collections. (It is possible that the Library may move away from project based activity in the future).
  8. As part of its consideration of the above functions and of the policies and procedures associated with them in relation to the provisions of the Act, the Library will include consideration of the provision of literature and other information relating to these functions. Where appropriate, literature and other information about other Library functions in relation to Northern Ireland will also be included within the consideration.
  9. The British Library is committed to the fulfillment of its Section 75 obligations. Statutory responsibility for the effective implementation of the Scheme and compliance with the duties lies with the British Library Board.
    Responsibility for driving forward implementation within the Library rests with the Chief Executive and this officer will be the point of contact for complainants. Contact details are as follows: lynne.brindley@bl.uk tel. +44 (0)20–7412-7273; Fax; +44 (0)20–7412-7268.
  10. The Director of Human Resources will be the point of contact for the Equality Commission. Contact details are mary.canavan@bl.uk tel. +44 (0)20–7412-7077, fax: +44 (0)20–7412-7093 Statutory responsibility for the effective implementation of the Scheme and compliance with the duties lies with the British Library Board.
  11. The Library will integrate objectives and targets relating to the statutory obligations into the business planning process and, where appropriate, staff will include the implementation of the obligations into their individual forward job plans. Senior managers will receive quarterly progress reports so that they can progress the necessary corrective action in the light of variances from targets.
  12. The Library will ensure that implementation of the Section 75 obligations is supported efficiently with the necessary resources. Where appropriate, the Library will communicate with, and train staff on the requirements of the statutory obligations and how they can be implemented monitored and reviewed effectively.
  13. The Library will carry out an annual review of the progress made in implementing the arrangements specified in the Equality Scheme and in complying with the statutory duties. The Library will liaise with the Equality Commission to ensure that progress is maintained and a report will be sent to the Equality Commission The Library will also report on progress in summary form in its Annual Report and on its website, www.bl.uk

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2. Arrangements for Assessing Compliance

  1. The Library will assess how all the policies and procedures associated with the functions listed in section 1.7 impact on the promotion of equality of opportunity and the promotion of good relations within the terms of section 75 of the Act. This will be done in two stages:
    - The Library will carry out the screening procedure on the functions listed at 1.7 and will report to the Equality Commission within 6 months of the publication of the Scheme.
    -On any functions selected for full equality impact assessments, the Library will carry out these assessments over the following five years.
    Policy screening will be co-ordinated by the Library’s HR Director and a report will be presented to the Executive Team
  2. The Library will consult with the Equality Commission and the Community Relations Council on issues relevant to the fulfilment of the section 75 obligations (results of screening and impact assessments). It will take account of proposals from these bodies relating to its compliance with the section 75 obligations.
  3. In relation to matters relevant to the duties, the Library will consult on screening and equality impact assessments with the relevant public sector and non-governmental organisations including voluntary, community and trade union groups and organisations representing the various categories included in Section 75. (see Annex A). This is not an exhaustive list and may be amended in the light of experience.
  4. In consulting with bodies, the Library will aim to allow a period of at least 8 weeks for responses and will begin consultation with groups and individuals as early as possible. However, there may be circumstances where a shorter timescale has to be adopted and these will be monitored and reported in an annual review of progress.
  5. In consulting on any matter to which this scheme relates, the Library will work with representative groups and individuals of the section 75 categories in order to identify how best to obtain their view. This may involve face-to-face meetings, advisory groups, surveys, consultative panels, internet discussions, citizens juries, and other innovative ways of consulting as there will be different means of consultation for different groups and it will be important to establish the basis for dialogue and engagement during the life of the scheme. It will consider providing consultation documents in alternative formats if demand arises. In developing systems to make our information as accessible as possible, consideration will be given to the needs of young people and those with learning difficulties. The Library is committed to producing all information in clear and straightforward English, avoiding the use of unnecessary jargon and acronyms.
  6. If demand arises and the Library organises consultation meetings and focus groups, the Library will try to ensure maximum participation through careful consideration of individuals’ problems attending meetings such as access, location and timings.

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3. Assessing the Impact of Policies

  1. The Library is required to assess the impact of its policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity. In identifying policies to be screened and then potentially given an equality impact assessment, the Library will look at both current functions and the policies and procedures associated with them (see list at 1.7) and new or changed functions, policies and procedures which will be proposed for adoption during the term of the scheme.
  2. For each function listed in 1.7, the Library will consider the impact of current policies and procedures associated with the function on equality of opportunity in terms of the nine categories listed at Section 75 of the Act (see section 1.3). For each policy the following criteria will be applied:
    • is there any evidence of higher or lower participation or uptake by different groups?
    • is there any evidence that different groups have different needs, experiences, issues and priorities in relation to a particular policy?
    • is there an opportunity to better promote equality of opportunity or better community relations by altering the policy or working with others in government or the larger community? and
    • have consultations with relevant groups, organisations or individuals indicated that particular policies create problems which are specific to them?
  3. The unit within the Library responsible for the particular function listed at 1.7 will screen this function using the criteria set out in section 3.2 within four months of the publication of the Equality Scheme . The Library will then consult on the results of the initial screening process. This consultation process will include the timetable for conducting equality impact assessments on the functions that the screening exercise has shown to have a significant impact upon equality of opportunity.
  4. Where the Library carries out equality impact assessments, which will be conducted in accordance with Annex 1 of the Commission’s Guide to the Statutory Duties, these will aim to identify whether, within each section 75 category, the policy or procedure or the and/or the manner in which it is implemented create(s) differential impact between groups or has the potential to enhance equality of opportunity between groups, particularly in terms of:
    • rights
    • resources
    • participation
  5. The Library may carry out an equality impact assessment as part of a wider review of a particular function in relation to the UK as a whole but will ensure that the special requirements of the Northern Ireland equality legislation are fully addressed in the proposed policies.
  6. The Library will report to the Equality Commission annually on the results of the impact assessments, its consultation on these, who was consulted, a summary of comments made, any changes made as a result and the timetable for future impact assessments.

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4. Arrangements for Monitoring Policies

  1. The Library will actively seek to establish systems to monitor the impact of policies in order to identify their effects and this system will be reviewed on an annual basis. Where possible existing administrative and management information systems will be developed to gather statistical information on the groups within the Section 75 categories. Where an equality impact assessment has identified an anticipated adverse impact on particular groups within the Section 75 categories, the Library will consider whether the policy or procedure can be modified to mitigate or eliminate the adverse impact. The Library will consider commissioning special monitoring and analysis to confirm the extent of the adverse impact and/or the success of any mitigating measures. Information collected in this special monitoring will be taken into account in any future review of the policy or procedure.

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5. Publication of Assessments and Monitoring

  1. The Library will publish the results of the equality impact assessments and of any monitoring undertaken in relation to section 4. The Library will work with consultee groups to identify the best methods to make this information easily accessible. This information will be posted on the Library’s website, www.bl.uk. and will also be available on request from the Diversity Manager, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB. Requests for information may be made in writing to the Diversity Manager, by phone (+44 (0)20-7412-7194), fax (+44 (0)20-7412-7306) or email (NI-info@bl.uk). The Library will directly inform the bodies listed at Annex A when this material is available and will also inform the general public through press releases.
  2. Published documentation on an equality impact assessment will include:
    • the aims of the policy
    • details of any consideration given to ways of mitigating the adverse impact of the policy on the promotion of equality
    • details of any consideration given to alternative policies which might better achieve the promotion of equality.

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6. Commitment

  1. The Library is committed to take into account the results of equality impact assessments and consultation when making a decision on policies adopted or proposed to be adopted. It recognises that this is a statutory requirement under paragraph 9(2) of Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

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7. Training

  1. The Library will actively seek to establish systems to develop and deliver a planned programme of communication and training on this Equality Scheme. The programme objectives will be as follows:
    • To raise awareness of current anti-discrimination legislation, including the provisions of Section 75 and Section 76 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. This will include an explanation of the duties and their implications for employees;
    • To provide those employees involved in screening of policies with the necessary skills and knowledge to do this work effectively;
    • To provide those employees involved in the equality impact assessment of policies with the necessary skills and knowledge to do this work effectively;
    • To provide those employees who deal with complaints in relation to the implementation of the Library’s Scheme with the necessary skills and knowledge to do this work effectively;
    • To provide those employees involved in consultation processes with the necessary skills and knowledge to do this work effectively; and
    • To evaluate the extent to which all participants in this training programme have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve each of the above objectives.

    The Library has received guidance from the Equality Commission on this training and is considering how to incorporate it into existing diversity and equality training arrangements for all library staff. Details of the training plan will be available later in the year, once the current restructuring of the HR directorate is completed. The Library will involve representatives from all the nine groups identified in Section 75 in the development and evaluation of training.

    The Annual Review of progress will include a report indicating the extent to which the training objectives have been met.

    The Library’s commitment to the statutory duties will be positively communicated both internally and externally. The Library will:

      • Provide access to the full scheme to all staff;
      • Ensure that the Library’s commitment to the statutory duties are made clear in Library publications and
      • Will ensure that any queries or questions of clarification from staff are addressed effectively


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8. Public Access to Information and Services

  1. The Library is committed to effective communication with the public. The Library aims to respond to written and email inquiries within 10 working days. The Library’s website www.bl.uk carries extensive information about the Library’s services, including contact telephone numbers.
  2. The Library is considering how information about its services could be presented more clearly and in a more user friendly manner, and at how the needs for information of people with disabilities and of other minority groups can be more effectively addressed. In particular the Library will consider provision of information in alternative formats including Braille, large print, computer disk and audio tape and, in consultation with the relevant groups, look at ways to improve accessibility to its website.

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9. Timetable

  1. Following approval of this scheme by 31 August 2003, the Library will consult on the results of the initial screening of the policies and procedures associated with the functions listed in 1.7 within 4 months ie by 31 December 2003.

  2. Within six months of consultation, ie by 29 February 2004, the Library will publish the results of the screening exercise. This will include the timetable for the impact assessments to be carried out over the following five years.
  3. The Library will produce a progress report for the Equality Commission annually.
  4. The Library will review the initial equality scheme within five years of publication ie by 30 April 2008 and will forward a report of this review to the Equality Commission.

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10. Publication of the Scheme

  1. Following submission of the scheme to the Equality Commission, it will be available in print form, free, on request, from the following address:

    Diversity Manager
    The British Library
    96 Euston Road
    London NW1 2DB

    Requests may also be made by phone (+44 (0)20-7412-7194, fax (+44 (0)20-7412-7306) or email (NI-info@bl.uk). The Scheme will also be available as outlined in section 2.5 and be available on the Library’s website, www.bl.uk.

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11. Complaints

  1. When a person believes that s/he has been directly affected by a failure of the British Library to comply with this scheme, s/he should, in the first instance, bring the complaint to the attention of the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive will carry out an initial internal investigation of the complaint and will respond to the complainant within 4 weeks. In responding to the complainant, the Library will explain the procedure for pursuing the complaint further with the Equality Commission, as set out in paragraph 10 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The Library will co-operate fully in any subsequent investigation by the Equality Commission, providing access to any staff members or relevant documentation which the Commission may require. Similarly the Library will co-operate fully with any investigation by the Equality Commission under sub-paragraph 11 (1) (b) of the Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

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Annex A

List of organisations to be consulted
This list is not exhaustive and may be amended in the light of experience

Age Concern Northern Ireland
Association of Chief Officers of Voluntary Organisations
Barnardos
Belfast Education and Library Board
British Deaf Association
Carers National Association Northern Ireland
Child Care Northern Ireland
Child Poverty Action Group
Coalition on Sexual Orientation
Committee on the Administration of Justice
Community Relations Council
Department of Education (Northern Ireland)
Disability Action
Employers’ Forum on Disability
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Equality Forum NI
Falls Community Council
Gay and Lesbian Youth NI
Gingerbread Northern Ireland
Help the Aged, Northern Ireland
Library Association
MENCAP
Multi-Cultural Resource Centre
NIGRA (Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association)
North Eastern Education and Library Board
North-South Liaison Committee, Library Association of Ireland
North West Community Network
Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health
Northern Ireland Committee, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities
Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education
Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action
Northern Ireland Higher Education Council
Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Northern Ireland Museums Council
Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation
NSPCC
NUS USI
NW Forum of People with Disabilities
Royal National Institute for Deaf People
Royal National Institute for the Blind (NI)
Rural Community Network
South Eastern Education and Library Board
Southern Education and Library Board
Staff Commission for Education and Library Boards
The Equality Unit, OFMDFM
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
Traveller Movement Northern Ireland
Western Education and Library Board
Women’s Forum Northern Ireland
Women’s Information Group
Women’s Resource and Development Agency
Youth Council for Northern Ireland

Please let us know if you do not feel this list contains a full representation of Northern Ireland organisations that ought to have an interest in British Library functions.

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Annex B

Main groups relevant to the Section 75 categories for Northern Ireland purposes

Category

Main groups

Religious beliefProtestants; Catholics; people of non-Christian faiths; people of no religious belief
Political opinionUnionists generally; Nationalists generally; members/supporters of any political party
Racial groupWhite people; Chinese; Travellers; Indians; Pakistanis; Black people
'Men and women generally'Men (including boys); women (including girls); transgendered people
Marital statusMarried people; unmarried people; divorced or separated people; widowed people
AgeChildren under 16; people of working age (16/65); people over 65
'Persons with a disability'Persons with a physical, sensory, mental or learning disability as defined in sections 1 and 2 and Schedules 1 and 2 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
'Persons with dependants'Persons with personal responsibility for the care of a child; persons with personal responsibility for the care of a person with an incapacitating disability; persons with personal responsibility for the care of a dependant elderly person
Sexual orientationHeterosexual people; homosexual people; bisexual people



Annex C

Consultation on Draft Equality Scheme

The British Library published its draft Equality Scheme for consultation on 2 March 2001. It specifically invited comments from the bodies listed at Annex A but it was also available free on request from any other group or person and was posted on the Internet.

The main comments received were:

  • Ensuring that “necessary” rather than “adequate” resources are allocated
  • Absence of details on training
  • Additional consultees
  • Scope of policies to be included for screening and impact assessment
  • Amendments to category definitions in Annex B
  • Need to list and publicise availability of alternative formats and provide alternative methods of contact
  • Concern that there may be an accessibility issue in charging for the provision of printed documentation relating to assessments and monitoring

In the light of these comments the following amendments have been made to the Scheme:

  • "appropriate resources" changed to "necessary resources".
  • Commitment to involving the groups identified under Section 75 in the development and evaluation of training.
  • Additions to List of consultees in Annex A for screening and equality impact assessments
  • Clarification that main functions will include all policies covered by the function.
  • Inclusion of transgendered people in gender category, inclusion of persons with a mental disability in the category of “persons with a disability”.
  • A list of alternative formats that are being considered has now been included; Telephone, fax and email contact details have also been included.
  • Commitment to consulting with groups identified under Section 75 to establish best methods of making information about the monitoring and impact assessment accessible .

 
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