The Leadership Void

I have to admit to admiring mavericks. Individuals that stand above the mainstream and are quite happy to challenge the system or status quo from without or within. Think Tony Benn. Such maverick behaviour is a time honoured and valuable political tradition. Principles before party and all that.

Then again, perhaps I just watched too many films such as Rebel without a Cause, Easy Rider or The Wild One when younger! The phrase ‘what are you rebelling against’, which elicits the reply ‘whadda you got?’ resonates down the decades.

Rebellion seems rife at the moment over the governance review with barbed comments flying thick and fast on LIS-PUB-LIBS. Even without Tom Roper’s resignation to add to the mix the issue was always likely to cause a furore. As far back as February I highlighted elements of the proposals, which to me, went against the democratic principles of a membership organisation. Equally, many other individual members also raised concerns in their feedback to Cilip. Certainly Tom’s resignation has not caused the resulting uproar but it has brought it into sharp focus.

Many campaigners and those outside the profession are both perplexed and as Desmond Clarke observed, appalled, by what they see as an unnecessary distraction to campaigning against library cuts and closures:

“All this energy being spent by the CILIP leadership on changing the structure of its Council at this time is appalling when the library service faces a major crisis and thousands of librarians are losing their jobs. Fiddling with the composition of council at this time is not going to help anyone, neither CILIP, its staff. CILIP members or the public that libraries exist to serve. No one would be affected if the changes were put off for a year or two while everyone focused on ensuring that a library service is available to the millions of people who need it.”

Now I have to say that I see things slightly differently. Despite the unfortunate tendency towards mud-slinging the debate has thrown-up, the governance of our professional body is an important issue. If a revised structure improves the running of the organisation than well and good. It’s been a long time in the planning and deserves proper consideration and debate by the membership.

Such discussion should obviously not distract us from the major changes going on in the library sector. However, debating these changes does not equate to there being any less willingness or time spent on advocating for public libraries either by individual members or Cilip itself. They are not mutually exclusive activities.

Maybe the real point then is not whether such activities distract Cilip from campaigning but whether Cilip is capable of the robust advocacy needed in the rough and tumble of the political arena in the first place. And that’s a whole different question and debate.

Perhaps this highlights the issue of the ‘leadership void’ that so many campaigners have complained about. Not individual leaders of which there are many fine examples in libraries but rather a body that proactively seeks to defend public libraries and staff.


One of the difficulties that Cilip faces is that it lacks both the size and political influence that say a combined professional body and union such as the National Union of Teachers has. Neither does it have a strong history of political advocacy, which immediately put it at a disadvantage during the upheaval of the past few years.

A difficult point for many outside, and even inside, the profession to accept is that Cilip has never been a campaigning body. Why this is so is not always clear. It has been argued that the charitable and chartered status of the body sets certain restrictions on campaigning activity. Equally, as a body it has limited resources so has tended to rely on co-operation and conciliation rather than taking a more adversarial approach. Perhaps it has never needed to campaign strongly and the advantages that we have taken for granted until recently, such as professionally staffed libraries, have been given to us rather than fought for and earned.

The profession is, in the main, conservative with a small ‘c’ and overall members have shown a lack of appetite for direct campaigning. Partly, I suspect, this is related to job insecurity and not wishing to put heads above the parapet. Cilip has also become quite a broad based organisation appealing to other sectors such as information and knowledge management, as well as school, academic, and special libraries, which means it’s not just public libraries that have to be catered for.

Nevertheless, we should also recognise that as a professional body Cilip does many things well, such as training, networking, highlighting good practice, raising professional standards, organising conferences, cooperating with other library associations, and contributing to important professional topics e.g. copyright law and ebooks. As such it should be given credit.

However Cilip is not, and is unlikely ever to be, a strong campaigning organisation and those that expect it to be expect too much.

Society of Chief Librarians

Equally, looking to the SCL for political leadership is also unrealistic. The SCL is not an independent organisation but is accountable to the Local Government Association and as such will conform to restrictions imposed by the expectations and policies of the LGA. The recent announcement to support ‘community libraries’ being a case in point.

The SCL enjoys close links to governmental agencies that influence the direction of travel for libraries such as the DCMS and ACE. Over the years this has usually worked to the profession’s advantage. Equally, Ed Vaizey is still happy to talk to the SCL directly (unlike Cilip), which could be viewed as keeping open important channels of communication to the Minister responsible for libraries. Conversely, it also indicates how much SCL is part of the mainstream political machinery and regarded as a safe organisation for promoting the government’s view of libraries.

Now to be fair to the SCL they have always been open about their limitations. When meeting with campaigners in 2012 they made it very clear that:

• They were not and could not be a campaigning body
• As a body they were accountable to the LGA
• They could not criticise local authorities or oppose government or council policy
• They were not a voice for librarians but for local government and that it was CILIP that was the voice for librarians

That is not to say that the SCL does not carry out excellent work. It does. Over the years the body has promoted good practice, encouraged senior librarians to support each other and work together on a regional and national basis, and has been responsible for the Universal offers, to which the addition of a ‘learning’ strand is to be welcomed. The Universal offers are in my opinion one of the best schemes that libraries have undertaken. And for this the SCL should be given full credit.

So it’s unrealistic to expect the SCL to be anything other than it is. Those who expect the SCL to provide independent leadership for the library profession will be sorely disappointed. That is not its raison d’etre.

Rebels with a cause

In the main I am not a reformist. I do not believe that Cilip can be changed sufficiently to provide the strong focus, frank rhetoric, and forceful advocacy that public libraries need. So far this has been left to organisations such as the Library Campaign and Voices for the Library. But such groups, while providing an essential outlet, are not professional bodies or a voice solely for librarians.

The library sector is changing, driven by technology, societal pressures, and political ideology. As a profession we have responded positively to technological and societal changes but it is the ideology that is proving our downfall. In response we need to find another way to challenge the politics, to provide a united front, to fill the leadership void. One that is focussed solely on campaigning for public libraries and in which librarians are the central voice.

Not so long ago I wrote a post speculating about the need for another kind of professional body. At the time Tom Roper who was then a council member, disagreed with me (just as I disagreed with his viewpoint). There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding divergent views – which leads to debate and then hopefully consensus – but equally there comes a point when attacking organisations such as Cilip and the SCL becomes a waste of time and energy particularly if transformation is not possible or, more importantly, if they are not the most effective agents for the change that is needed.

Perhaps it’s time to stop rebelling for the sake of it, for asking ‘whadda you got?’ Public libraries are a cause worth fighting for, what we need is an organisation that can take that fight forward.

28 thoughts on “The Leadership Void”

  1. It is lamentable, but informative, to see set out so clearly all the things that CILIP and the SCL are not. Among the organisations which *are* committed to “taking the fight forward” are Voices for the Library, Don’t Privatise Libraries, Campaign for the Book and The Library Campaign. Countless others exist at local level. Without exception these call for a professionally-run and staffed, accessible Library Service. On that score, SCL and CILIP have become pretty much an irrelevance to everyone except a few navel-gazers.


    1. All very good organisations and fighting the good fight. However, we also need to recognise that while many local campaigns would prefer to keep paid staff/qualified librarians the majority will also step forward to run their local library if they believe closures to be imminent. Their primary focus is the library not the librarian. However noble the intention the bitter truth is councils rely on such sentiments to save libraries, while at the same time depriving staff of jobs and careers.

      I agree that as a political force Cilip is an irrelevance but not so the SCL. The SCL have a lot of influence within the library sector. It would be a mistake to underestimate the good they can do within LGA by advocating for libraries but equally the damage that can be done by following through on the political expectations of the LGA e.g. ‘community libraries’.


  2. SCL’s apparent collusion with Government to shrink rather than expand and improve a professionally-led and staffed Library Service is utterly appalling. Why on earth are they doing it with such gusto? It is impossible to understand their motivation for taking a stance which must disgust everyone. Does CILIP go along with it, or not? If yes, they should be deeply ashamed; if not, is there *any* evidence that they have protested to SCL on behalf of their membership, let alone explained that this assault on the Service is contrary to the common good? Is everyone scared of them, or what?


  3. Re the organisational formalities:
    There is no formal connection between the LGA and the SCL. The LGA is a lobbying organisation on behalf of local government. Councils voluntarily pay a membership subscription to the LGA. The SCL is simply the Chief Librarians of every Library Authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. By definition [I hope!] they know a lot about public libraries. CILIP is a charity and therefore must act to provide public benefit. The public interest is not necessarily the same as the interest of its members.


    1. On the SCL website it states: Since its inception, the Society has grown in strength to become a major local government society acting in partnership with government and other agencies to further the strategic development of public library services (my italiacs).

      And at a meeting in 2012 it was stated that ‘the SCL as a body is recognised as accountable to the LGA but not in terms of line management.’

      While there might not be a formal arrangement between the two the SCL acts in principle as if it’s accountable to the LGA, in practice as a partner to the LGA, and regards itself as a local government society. The lack of an agreement between both bodies is therefore neither here or there.

      Cilip, like other membership organisations, exists both for the public good and its members. Most professional bodies (many of which are charities as well) protect the public good by maintaining and enforcing standards, training and ethics for instance but being a charity does not preclude acting in the best interests of or campaigning for members. Cilip campaigns, it just doesn’t do it very well (in my opinion).


    2. Chief Librarians rely on chartered librarians and experienced frontline staff to deliver; you could say that those folk justify their very existence. Is it possible that CL’s would be satisfied with remote provision of the service, with the CL’s job the only one to survive? Is that why they are so quiet about the travails of their colleagues? Apparently the LGA and SCL’s ‘organisational formalities’ exist to protect a variety of vested interests – whilst ignoring the public for whom public libraries were created to serve. The LGA should be scrapped without further ado – It’s a waste of money and space. The SCL must be castigated for its complicity in dismantling the service. CILIP, as you say, is a somewhat different animal. But, if CILIP is not acting in such a way as to provide ‘public benefit’, its status should be called into question as well. Look at where we are now! A total MESS. But all 3 outfits motor along in their comfort zones, all smugly deluded that they “know a lot” and evidently without a care in the world for the mayhem under way around them. It beggars belief.


  4. Sorry I suspect this is all a bit pedantic to the more general point you were making.

    The quote you mention in your reply comes from Ian Anstice’s notes of a 2012 meeting between campaigners and the SCL. But isn’t it an oxymoron to be accountable to a body but not in terms of line management? The LGA can’t sack the SCL or any of its members. Perhaps Ian can clarify as to what his note meant.

    The LGA can express a view about public libraries and by the nature of who they represent that view may well be influential. But decisions are made by individual councils with overall supervision from central government.

    The individuals who make up the SCL are employed by and responsible to their individual Library Authorities (=Councils). As Ian’s note makes clear the SCL is merely a group of individuals. The SCL, as a collective of individuals, and the LGA can and do work together and it is hardly surprising if they have somewhat similar views. They work in the same sector.

    I agree with you that CILIP can do all the things you say and be a charity. But if there is a clash between public benefit and its members interests then to say the least CILIP would need to tread very carefully.


    1. I think were we differ is perception. You regard SCL as a collection of individuals that come together for the common good (of libraries) and that might have been true historically but increasingly they act as an organised body. They have an organisational website with the strapline ‘leading & managing public libraries’ so to many outside and inside the profession it must appear that the SCL is doing this not the individual members. Even on the ‘About’ page it states: ‘The Society of Chief Librarians leads and manages public libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

      Equally, they have recently appointed a executive officer, they meet and make representation to the DCMS, they partner with ACE, LGA and the Reading Agency amongst others, and they launch schemes such as the Universal offers. For all intents and purposes the SCL presents itself as a unified body able to act and speak on behalf of the profession and not as a loose collective of individuals. If they are encouraging this perception they should not be surprised to be challenged as a ‘body’.

      You are right about the quote coming from Ian Anstice’s notes but equally the notes state that the SCL had given approval and made some amendments. So at the time they obviously accepted that it was a true and accurate representation of what was said and discussed.

      The sad implication is that if the SCL are not ‘accountable’ to the LGA then there’s no reason why they cannot take an opposite view to those espoused by the LGA. You can still work with organisations while not fully accepting all their views. That’s politics! The fact they don’t means that as a library body they can and should be challenged.


  5. As always I agree with Shirley on almost everything. The senior librarians wield power and are in a position to change things for the better for the rest of us but the only game in town is volunteer libraries apart from the Tri-Borough. One can only assume they have their own agenda to pursue, one that sacrifices the small branch libraries to save the precious PFI funded super libraries where they work. The SCL are supposed to “advocates for continuous improvement of the public library service on behalf of local people” but they’re failing to do that. They SCL can hold views publicly on whatever it wants, there’s nothing to stop them but they hide behind the civil service code or the local gov equivalent to mean they can keep their agenda quiet. With the parties in councils holding their real debates behind closed doors in the party group meetings and practically every single “consultation” a sham with a foregone conclusion riddled with blue sky doublespeak, we deserve better.


  6. Among the many questionable assumptions in this thread is the one that says that “the DCMS and the Arts Council’ decide the ‘direction of travel ‘ of the public library service

    They don’t – it is the Leaders of Councils who have decided what happens to libraries . For a decade at least there has been nothing said to help them – so leaders have to decide the level of priority and resource that should go to libraries .

    We all see the different ways different leaders approach the problem – and sometimes seek to excuse what they feel forced to do . But there is no doubt who makes the decisions .

    CILIP and SCL are just merchants of gossip . The LGA is a little more interesting – but not much help when a leader has to have a serious discussion about difficult budget problems

    If the so called library profession wanted to show leadership and be listened to they have, at minimum, to try to see the landscape as leaders see it – and then try to articulate helpful and sensible advice

    It is fairly ridiculous to think that a council leader will bother to read Arts council reports on visions for libraries or SCL website propaganda about ‘universal offers ‘- a council leader has to know what libraries offer in order to know whether they are relevant and important to their constituents


    1. Always happy to debate my assumptions Tim. However, both the DCMS and ACE do influence the direction libraries take. The DCMS funds ACE, which in turn decides how to support libraries through grants for instance. For example ACE funded the Grants for Arts awards (G4A) that have seen libraries more heavily involved in partnerships with the arts because that’s where the money is (£6 million worth!). ACE also commissioned Envisioning the library of the future report and with the LGA the Community libraries – Learning from experience: guiding principles for local authorities. All of which has influenced many council authorities and leaders, particularly towards community led libraries, despite that fact you think councillors don’t read such reports.

      The DCMS and Ed Vaizey have repeatedly refused to intervene in widespread closures (Lincolnshire a case in point) despite the Minister’s fine rhetoric when in opposition. Again, the failure to intervene and the very clear support for volunteer led libraries have given councils carte blanche to close or hand over libraries without any fear of governmental interference or repercussions.

      Now to question an assumption of your own: you state that it is the council leaders that decide what happens to libraries but do you honestly think they do so in a vacuum without reference to national trends or guidance coming through from the DCMS, ACE and the LGA. That’s certainly not my experience.

      If you honestly think these bodies don’t directly and indirectly influence library services then you have very little understanding of the sector.

      You also berate library leaders for not seeing the wider picture or offering ‘sensible’ advice, the implication being that if only librarians offered sensible advice then cuts would not have to be made! Do you honestly believe that? Again I would challenge that this shows a lack of understanding about what most services have done to decrease costs over the years. Where services have been held back is not by lack of innovation from the library profession but by the local political considerations and an unwillingness to share services with other authorities. Decisions made by councillors, not librarians
      Many councils have opted for the volunteer route (again a direction championed by the government particularly in regards to Localism) or a trust approach (again a government supported option). So what other options are there which haven’t been tried? Shared services perhaps? An approach that many within the profession would like to see but if the comments from Seighart are anything to go by will be missing from his report. If it is, it will be due to political obstruction and not a lack of imagination from librarians.

      So what exactly is this sensible advice and why haven’t council leaders acted upon it? As you say it is they and not the library profession that make the decisions.


      1. Leon – sure – in terms of sensible advice that leaders of the library service could have given over say the past fifteen years here are a few ideas to start with

        – they could have advised that there is no need for each library authority to have its own library management system with all it’s attendant costs

        – they could have advised that to adopt standard book processing specifications would have saved a fortune in the supply chain

        – they could have advised that to adopt standard RFID systems would have saved a fortune and opened up all kinds of efficiencies

        – they could have analysed why library use is declining

        – they could have created a whole set of library performance standards that would advise councils ( and residents ) how good their local libraries are

        – they could have advised councils that having local individual distribution networks in each council is a waste of money

        – they could have worked with publishers to improve information flows and general efficiencies of stock acquisition, reader development etc

        – they could have developed a coherent strategy for the adoption of digital material

        – they could have used BIC ( book
        Industry communications , which CILIP funded ) as a body to drive effieciency

        – they could have mounted a cooperative marketing strategy with publishers

        – they could have given councillors sensible advice on how to run public libraries

        ……. I could go on



      2. To be fair Tim some of the suggestions have a modicum of validity but they also have limited scope. Equally, most are beyond individual library leaders to enact and some would require major input from other players e.g. publishers. It would also require coordination from a single body such as ACE or the SCL to negotiate on behalf of the library profession as a whole. Even then any outcomes would only be in the form of recommendations since there is no single national library body as in Northern Ireland to enact them. I agree with you about standards but many (certainly all the authorities I’ve worked) produce local performance indicators. National standards are again not in the gift of individual librarians. Many within the profession would like to see a return of national standards (as in Wales) but these, or rather national indicators as they had become, were discontinued by the current government in 2010. Again this rather contradicts your assertion that governmental bodies have no or little influence on the direction of libraries.

        Unfortunately, some suggestions also appear downright anti-competitive and if we did go down the route of a single RFID or LMS I wouldn’t be surprised open to legal challenge (which makes Sieghart’s suggestions for a single, national LMS interesting). Equally, who gets to decide for a 151 different library authorities which LMS or RFID is the best, the most effective, the most cost effective etc. Like most librarians I have used many different systems over the years but systems change (both for good and bad) and new companies come on the scene with better products.

        Personally I prefer a competitive market that drives innovation and gives libraries a greater choice and value for money. Your suggestion would hand a great deal of power and influence to one supplier/company. And let’s face it the public sector has a poor record when trying to introduce IT systems on a large scale. Many have turned out to be very expensive train wrecks.
        Many library services do share a LMS on a small scale. But again the area is complex and nowhere near as simple as you suggest. To implement in any meaningful way e.g. on a regional basis, would require a degree of cooperation between councils that have been rather lacking to date.

        Given the very real ideological and financial challenges facing the profession these suggestions are at best tinkering around the edges. If you really want to help then spend time with senior library leaders to develop a more in-depth understanding of the sector rather than assuming that the problems are caused by a lack of imagination and acumen of librarians.


      3. Leon – I bow humbly to your superior wisdom, experience and understanding … Good luck … Tim


  7. Hi folks, I see my name mentioned. I can only see notes from a 2013 meeting with the SCL where it is mentioned that the LGA were consulted. I think the SCL work in partnership (that is, informally and co-operatively) with the LGA but independent from it. I’ll check with them. It’s worth bearing in mind that Chief Librarians, by the current nature of things, are faced with very difficult decisions around cutting staff and so are somewhat bound by what they can publicly come out against, although I find them very honest (if a little out of touch with what the frontline staff are going through – they were in denial about poor morale in branches, for instance) in our meetings with them.

    Good view of the organisations here, Leon. Two points from what Shirley says – Campaign for the Book is not really an organisation as such but rather Alan Gibbons. Stop the Privatisation of Public Libraries is again one person: Alan Wylie. I’m not surprised; sometimes people think the same of Public Libraries News and am shocked to find it’s only me.

    We’ve not mentioned, I think, the one organisation that does represent a majority of library workers directly. This is of course UNISON who do a pile of good work representing the interests of not just the profession but also of the library assistants as well and do have political influence, albeit less so than they once did with Labour and certainly less (ahem!) with the Tories.


    1. I was going to mention Unison but in the end decided to keep it to those with direct influence within the library sector. Unfortunately, while producing some excellent reports around libraries, in practice Unison have had no or very little influence in stopping library closures, protecting staff, or handing libraries over to volunteers (at least none that I can see). As you say it’s unlikely a conservative led government would take much notice of them anyway.

      It would be interesting to know what, if any, advice they are offering Labour and Helen Goodman about libraries. Perhaps any Unison members reading this would be able to find out.


  8. It’s the many hundreds of staff, like Anne Frost, who ensure the nation has a high-quality service that distinguishes itself from swimming pools, public toilets and potholes. I urge visitors to this Blog to read what she has to say:

    The Star : 17th August
    Sheffield librarian is ‘privileged to do a job I love that makes a difference’

    In the final analysis, unless the SCL, CILIP, LGA, UNISON, educators, the Literacy Trust and all Councillors & campaigners finally wake up – there won’t be anything of any real value left for them to defend.


  9. For me, keeping CILIP a democratic, member-led organisation is an important prerequisite for that organisation being able to join with all the others who want to protect the public library service. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect it to be able to join that fight — even the old LA was able to ally itself with the Library Campaign and trade unions. And last year’s CILIP AGM passed a motion of no confidence in Ed Vaizey.
    Of course I’m aware of CILIP’s limitations, but we could be a clear professional voice in defence of standards and services, not just in public libraries, but in every sector where library and information professionals work.


  10. At the risk of adding my own name to the list of ‘usual suspects’ I would like to just comment on a couple of things that I know something about.

    On BIC and standards. BIC is a body that brings together the very people that Leon suggests would need to co-operate to deliver a more efficient service – the publishers, library suppliers and yes, even librarians. Standards may not be within the gift of individual librarians but they don’t grow out of thin air, they are the result of providers and consumers working together to improve working practice. Individual librarians can certainly contribute to that process, they can also of course reinforce it by demanding that the suppliers from whom they purchase goods and services adhere to the standards that their colleagues labour long and hard to produce.

    On a single RFID solution. Provided that you buy a standards compliant solution the stock on your shelves should work with any of the equipment supplied by the major UK suppliers so there’s little need to go for a single solution. The more aware and enlightened authorities already ‘mix and match’ hardware from different suppliers. If yours can’t do that you bought the wrong solution.

    On a single LMS. Having just been through the process of writing the spec for a single LMS for Ireland I can certainly sympathise with the view that it’s not easy! I can’t (and wouldn’t anyway) comment on how the decision was reached but I share Leon’s concern about competition. My preference is to focus on improving interoperability to overcome the proprietary frustrations that are causing some librarians to seek a single LMS solution and others to go Open Source and try the DIY approach.

    Once again BIC has been working hard to persuade suppliers to adopt the Library Communication Framework (LCF) which establishes a set of common data elements and values that may be implemented in whatever way a supplier wishes (avoiding the limitations of more prescriptive protocols).

    Of course the only way the framework will succeed is if librarians, leaders of councils or whoever spends the money demands that their supplier support it. BIC can do all the hard work on behalf of the library community but it won’t be worth anything unless that community – which helped to develop it – uses it.

    Greater interoperability and use of standards would at least save us from the tyranny of a single source of supply for all our needs as advocated by Tim Coates and, in an earlier time, Henry Ford.

    On campaigning. There is a tension between library campaigners and librarian campaigners that needs to be acknowledged. When I helped set up and fund Voices for the Library I naively hoped it would raise public awareness about the value of the service and that with that would come the realisation that such a valuable service needs professional staff to run it. I think, as the only non-librarian in the group, that this strategy made my fellow campaigners deeply uneasy as they were, quite understandably, more concerned for the jobs of those working in libraries so eventually we parted company.

    It is my perception that VFTL does now focus more often on the value of professional staff than it used to. That’s not a problem but it does mean that it will, as it did with the Kensal campaigners occasionally find itself at odds with those who want to keep their service going by any means and any division dilutes the effectiveness of a campaign.

    Just some thoughts from yet another individual masquerading as a movement.


    1. Mick, thank you for bringing much needed expertise and clarity to the discussion. I have to say I am not familar with the work of BIC but will now visit their website to find out more.


    1. Thanks Ian, this clarification is really helpful. Unfortunately, it does nothing to dispel the assertion by SCL members at the meeting that ‘The SCL as a body is recognised as accountable to the LGA but not in terms of line management.’ Perhaps this was just badly phrased and was not meant to indicate a formal relationship. However, only those at the meeting could clarify what they meant.

      Leaving that aside it is very useful to know that since no formal relationship exists the SCL can take opposing views to the LGA. It interesting to note that at the time of writing the new SCL website has no position statements available yet and under the best practice section the community libraries area also remains empty.

      It will be interesting and no doubt contentious when they do finally put information up regarding what they think good practice around community libraries is. No doubt it will not be that much different to the views espoused by ACE and the DCMS. Equally, both the public and those within the profession would be forgiven for thinking that this was at the very least tacit support for community libraries from the body that pertains to lead and manage public libraries!

      I notice from the notes of the SCL and stakeholder meeting (July 2014) that:‘The SCL used the description community-led libraries to describe libraries that were led by the community but operated within the framework of a professionally managed service’

      Given the assertion that the SCL are just a collective of individuals it makes you wonder how they can make such a pronouncement. On the other hand perhaps they canvassed all 151 heads of libraries who agreed that they supported such a definition.


      1. Who pays for the SCL to employ a chief executive and any other costs they incur ? Is it public money ? To whom are they accountable for the use of that money ? Who sets the CEO’s objectives and what are they ? For what is she responsible – in the public eye?


      2. All good questions to which I wish I knew the answer. Perhaps, you could contact the SCL for clarification?


      3. It’s hard to say what is official SCL policy at these meetings and what is the view of its members. However, I send all my minutes of these minutes to SCL for checking and they do make changes. So one can assume that such lines are the view of the organisation. Make of that as you will.


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