Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BBC in Epicfail on public library closures in Morning news

Waking to the BBC breakfast news, I was interested in the piece on the public library closures. After watching it i'm more disheartened by the ineptitude of the BBC's reporting (iplayer piece here, thanks to wikiman). I thought the BBC was about balanced and fair reporting? Well I was wrong.
The report looked at the possible 375 closures countrywide. Mentioned the 250,000 drop in users. The second statement is total wrong. As Ned Potter wrote:-

For example, in the last year use of the library by black and
ethnic minority groups has increased; use of the library
by non-Christian religious people has increased; and the
number of 5 to 10 year olds who claim to have visited
their library ‘in the last week’ has increased (by more than
20%!). In other words, even during a down-turn in overall
visitation, kids and some minority groups are finding more
reasons to visit than before – I think that’s good news…
Incidentally, the report says more than once, ‘The decrease
in library visits is consistent across all socio-demographic
groups.’ Maybe I’m missing something, but that seems
quite a sweeping statement in light of the statistics above.
If the report itself glosses over any positives, what hope is
there of the headlines picking up on anything other than
the negatives?
In May, three months before the DCMS released their
report, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and
Accountancy released their own survey (CIPFA, 2010)
on exactly the same subject, amid far less fanfare. Their
findings cover the same five year period, but make much
better reading. Both surveys find physical attendance to be
down by around 4%; the difference is, CIPFA took the time
to investigate online activity as well. This, they discovered,
was up by a massive 49% across the country in the last year

The BBC then BRIEFLY mentioned the closures in Gloucester (even though it had spoken to friends of gloucestershire libraries about this segment of news). It then proceeded to mention the Buckinghamshire experiment in which 14 of the libraries are now volunteer run. A few questions were asked if user liked it and they said it was fine (thanks BBC, a free party political broadcast for big society there). They then asked the person in charge of the volunteers if it worked. He said yes, but that it took 60 volunteers, free time and pre-requisite skillset. A brief mention was then made of Stony Stratford patrons withdrawing all library books to stop the library closing.

That was it.

No mentions of people trying to stop these closures. Like Voices of the library, Save Doncaster Libraries, Barnet Libraries, Save Somerset's Libraries amongst others. No mention was made of the use of Twitter support for libraries snowballs worldwide. The whole social web and everything that librarians and patrons have done, totally ignored even though they contacted some of these people.

Funny really, that when the BBC had to close Radio 6 the BBC loved pointing out people trying to stop the closure, using the voice of Jarvis Cocker to do so. No mention of the open letter by authors such as Philip Pullman, Kate Mosse & Michael Holroyd against closures.

Anyhow, for those who wish to complain about this dire reporting the link is here.

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