Sometimes I Get So Angry..!

There’s no one theme to this post but observations about several issues. First and foremost is the lack of traction on the My Library By Right Campaign, an area I promised to explore further in my last post. The lack of signatures is very saddening and led to an outburst from Cilip ex-president Phil Bradley on his blog entitled ‘Really angry…’

I share his frustration with the apparent apathy out there. At the time of Phil’s blog there had only been 6,000 signatures, which has now increased to just over 9,000. This is embarrassingly low. There are 13,000 Cilip members so at the very least there should be 13,000 signatures. The fact there is not speaks volumes for the stronger together approach of Cilip representing different sectors. The number of signatures also doesn’t reflect all the library campaigns and individual campaigners out there. If everyone opposing closures at a local level signed the petition it would make a huge difference.

So here’s some things that everyone can do:

  • Sign the petition (no brainer)
  • Share not just once but repeatedly on social media
  • Ask family and friends to sign
  • If allowed share in the workplace and ask colleagues to sign
  • Some workplaces will not allow such open campaigning so talk to colleagues individually and ask to sign. At the end of the day this is a professional issue and you have every right to discuss it
  • Have the campaign poster or Cilip Update (Dec/jan 2015/16) prominently displayed in your office or at your workstation to help generate discussion and show your support
  • For the more adventurous campaign publicly and ask people to sign. Give out leaflets and engage with the public. Certainly this could be driven by Cilip groups regionally and equally by campaigners as part of local campaigners.

I’m sure there’s lots more so please share suggestions on social media.

Ultimately, as it states on the Cilip website, this is about holding “…the Government to account for these legal duties, including working with the Secretary of State to provide a clear and meaningful statement of the characteristics of a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service for Local Authorities to follow.” And surely no campaigner or Cilip member can disagree with that?

This leads me on to the SCL and the apparent lack of support from them, with no obvious statement, or link from the SCL website, acknowledging the campaign. Phil Bradley tweeted the SCL about the matter to which I replied, only partly tongue in cheek, to give them time as they needed to ask permission from the LGA first!

SCL’s status as firmly in the camp of the establishment rather than representing the best interests of the profession are surely beyond doubt. There is certainly a distinct lack of openness, transparency and accountability about the body. So here’s a simple challenge to the SCL: contact all the members and ask if there should be link to the My Library By Right campaign on the SCL website. Show the profession that there is at least some inkling of democracy about the organisation.

Thinking of the SCL I am rather surprised that amongst all the Cilip groups there is not one for senior staff and heads of service. I assume historically they have relied on the SCL to represents such interests. However, perhaps now is the time for Cilip to consider establishing an alternative that is not so bound to the vested interests of the LGA and is obviously more democratic and accountable to members and the wider profession.

Lastly, I return to a number of tweets I posted recently inspired by an exchange I had with someone locally regarding libraries and book swaps. Unfortunately, there are many out there who regard book swaps and volunteer libraries as a viable alternative to properly funded and staffed library services. My argument is that it’s not enough for libraries just to be open, you have to give people a reason to come through the doors in the first place.

This means providing services, activities, and facilities developed and delivered by a knowledgeable and dedicated workforce, underpinned by targeted marketing and outreach. Every successful business and organisation knows this.

Without such knowledge and dedication passive service provision will ultimately fail.  Libraries need to be dynamic places delivering and evolving services for the good of the community. This requires professional knowledge and experience, a trained workforce, and adequate funding

It’s also why book swaps will never be libraries and volunteers will never be librarians.


  1. Another powerful and accurate piece, that I find rings many bells for me. I too was staggered to see, or rather not see, the lack of support form SCL, I assumed it was ‘jobsworth’ I am also disappointed at the lack of support to signing up, is this apathy or the fact people don’t think it will do any good?

    However I have had a sad response myself on trying to get peole on board of supporting the cause, both the petition and local Lancashire closure of many public libraries.

    I emailed a long email to all my local contacts, friends etc. I asked them to email or sign petitions etc, not ONE response. I have also raised the matter at dinner parties etc, the latest yesterday. I mentioned the Lancashire proposition and the national one., there were murmurous of regret, BUT the overwhelming response was to the effect,’well there isn’t a real need now is there., what with e Books, internet etc’. I tried to expand on all the other services, that not everyone can or are able to use e books etc, but very very little sympathy.

    It is very disappointing



  2. No, volunteers such as myself in small local community libraries can and should not be paid professional librarians (even though I have a degree in librarianship), and a “book swop” as you call it does not constitute a full library service, but we are there every week ensuring the elderly, and the young mums with young children can have access to books they would not otherwise have, and the people without a computer at home can access the many aspects of modern living they would otherwise be denied.
    I understand the priciples you are fighting for and feel angry about, but please do not allow your political purity to be an excuse for criticising every day people for their attempts to save something that is a lifeline to local communities, in order to hold on to your professional status.
    It would be more helpful to do something real to help the many groups of people across the country who are working to hold on to our libraries. It may not be in the form you think they should be, but at least we are keeping something meaningful which can then be built on.
    I will think more about this during my session at the library this afternoon when all our elderly regulars come in for their weekly books and the young children leave with armfuls of picture books their parents would not be able to afford to buy them, and while I am planning how we can start building up our own library stock in readiness for when the local authority pulls their funding. I will also think about it when we have our monthly volunteer meeting to plan activities and services that will ensure we meet both the requirements of a library being a place to borrow books and a place of education and learning.
    Don’t look down on us. There is place for political lobbying and activism at professional, local authority and national level, and there is also a place for people at ground level doing real work working to ensure there’s something left to be fought for.
    With regards
    Lynne Ford


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