Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cilip blog disregards legitimate arguments......Again

Having read and posted about the Observer article on sunday, it was great to see the Cilip blog discuss it. Whoops, I mean disregard it. The article entitled Stop talking to each other, start talking to the media, or expect more bad headlines again disregards what librarians are saying about how we should enhance our profession (nothing unusual there then).
I am astonished at what Elspeth Hyams says of the article. Actually she says nothing of the article and its core content. Her opening gambit is this:-

Frustrating headlines like 'Time to go into battle to save our world of books' in the Observer newspaper or '‘MLA and DCMS “increasingly anti-book” on the Bookseller’s blog are a consequence of librarians talking to each other – but not to the national media.

Does she mention Cooke discussing the loss of service at the Wirral ? Or the utter vapidness of the Idea Store? The Library Minister idea on making libraries the '3d facebook' with noise to accompany it?
Nope, none of these are mentioned at all.

She does point out her problems with not being able to get a book from Haringey libraries even though they thought they had it. But the irony of her statement was as follows:-

Middle class people are passionate about libraries. But unless they are pensioners (preferably, white female ones) or middle aged, they don’t use libraries much, say most public librarians in my circle.

She's discussing Haringey and feel they are like this? Well, I think that maybe due to her live here or here and not here or here as these where very diverse in age and race (I worked there before you retort).

Elspeth also forgets Cooke's arguments 'Expenditure on books in our libraries is below 8% of the total public library funds, and in inner London that figure is just 5.7% (across the country, councils spend just 1.6% of their funding on children's books; several councils, Hackney and Doncaster among them, spend less than 1%). ' Her response to this is the laudable conclusion that:-

I’m one of the chattering classes myself, so the moral of this story? Think ahead! Friends of libraries like me will comment when the service doesn’t meet our expectations. So don’t ignore your well-heeled media-savvy champions (let alone journalists). And insist on training for staff!

Training? Pray, who should we go to for training? Oh, Cilip perhaps? I mean thats WHO YOU WORK FOR.

You seem to feel that there is no quality staff in libraries, but at Marcus Garvey and North Library I was inspired by great managers and staff, who gave a great service. Ironically too, none of them belonged to Cilip, so perhaps its not just libraries that need to be better at promoting themselves, perhaps it should be Cilip. But then when do they listen ?

1 comment:

by Neil said...

I think that CILIP Update blog post was a bit unfortunate. I guess you can't argue with the two examples of libraries failing to find books but it did sort of give the impression that libraries should be by the middle class and for the middle class.

Certainly, the public libraries I've worked in have enjoyed a diverse range of users (if anything, teenage kids & young mums easily as prevalent as middle class oldies).

I've always been of the opinion that, particularly in tough economic times, libraries should spend their *limited* resources on the folks who can't afford to go to Borders or Amazon.