It’s been a busy week in the library world with the main event being Libraries Week, showcasing as it did the wonderful and diverse range of work that libraries and library staff do. As illustrated on the LW website libraries are still ridiculously well attended and not necessarily in terminal decline as some would have us believe.That said, libraries still face quite significant challenges.
Despite being the representative of a government that has overseen the closure of 340 libraries and the loss of 8000 library staff John Glenn wasted no time in exploiting the event for numerous photo opportunities. He appears quite happy to use libraries as a backdrop to deliver inane governmental platitudes but not actually do anything to protect them. As the old adage goes ‘actions speak louder than words’ and by taking none the new libraries minister is as much a paper tiger as previous incumbents of the post.
This week also saw the Cilip AGM take place and it’s become a tradition on this blog to report back from it. Just before the AGM I took part in one of the ethic workshops that have been organised as part of the Big Conversation. While ethics might seem a long way from the practical, everyday situations librarians find themselves in the reverse is true and our values and behaviours should underpin everything we do. In my opinion we cannot claim to be a profession or act professionally if we don’t understand why we do what we do.
As Dawn Fince observes:
“It is worthwhile to reflect for a moment as to why ethics and professional values are so important. Our ethical principles do sit at the centre of our Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB), and should inform and inspire the way we use all the skills and knowledge set out in the PKSB, but they should be even more far reaching. At their best they should also protect the user, engender trust across all stakeholder groups and enable better judgement and decision making. To do that they need to be embedded in every aspect of our professional practice and promoted more widely within our user communities. This review is very much about the “public good” of our profession which, for CILIP, we express in terms of the following goal: “to put information and library skills and professional values at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society”.
It was heartening therefore to discover that over 1500 responses had been received to the ethics survey. If you havene’t had the opportunity yet I would encourage members and non-members alike to visit the Ethics Review page and to read the recent blog what are the work-based ethical issues concerning you?
For a more in-depth look at the topic it’s worth reading the seminal Our Enduring Values by Michael Gorman and an excellent round-up of the various issues by David McMenemy: Sustaining Our Common Values (slide presentation).
Libraries Change Lives
The Highlight of any Cilip AGM is the Libraries Change Lives Award and this year was no exception. It’s worth viewing all four shortlisted projects, with introductory films, to see how much impact libraries can have on peoples lives. And while every year throws up wonderful and innovative work being done, this year’s winner was particularly inspirational and moving. So congratulations to the library at HMP Norwich that delivers weekly cognitive stimulation therapy to elderly prisoners serving life sentences, who are suffering from memory loss, dementia, and depression.
Congratulations also to the other shortlisted candidates:
- Ipswich Library’s Chat and Chill: for women from diverse and international backgrounds living in Suffolk
- Kirklees Libraries’ Family Storywalks: bringing local families together outdoors to take part in learning and nature-based activities
- Story Café at the Women’s Library in Glasgow: a women-only shared reading group which brings women from different backgrounds together to connect over literature
There was also the awarding of five Honorary Fellowships
- Joy Court – Carnegie Greenaway Award Chair, Children’s librarian and children’s literature expert
- Martin Hayes – local studies librarian for West Sussex County
- Stephan Roman – former Regional Director of South Asia for the British Council
- Sheila Webber – Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s Information School
And last but by no means least:
- Chris Riddell – triple Kate Greenaway Medal winning illustrator, political cartoonist and former Children’s Laureate
All thoroughly deserved and Chris Riddell kept the room entertained with an amusing story of why and how librarians had inspired him: “This honorary fellowship has given me a chance to think of the important librarians in my life. She was called Helen…!”
It was an excellent day and a chance to catch-up with colleagues old and new and the opportunity to network. I would certainly encourage all members to attend an AGM if they get the opportunity.
Finally, Cilip members will have the opportunity to elect three new trustees to the Board over the coming weeks. Among the candidates is a certain Likable Loquacious Blogger..! Need I say more.