Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Devaluing libraries

The story goes on, as ever.


Certainly in England (if not yet in Wales) the Tory plan to have libraries run by volunteers is getting rolled out (as if running a library is roughly like running a charity shop, like the one in Walcot which doesn't get enough volunteers).

This is not only insulting to professional library staff, but seriously misunderstands the library's place in society.

It seems far more likely that the plan is to run them this way, and then, as volunteers fall away, claim that proves people don't really want libraries, and close them. Will we also get a volunteer fire service, volunteer ambulance service, volunteer-run old people's homes? What is this? A war zone?

When I posted something similar on Facebook, one librarian commented:

"I'd love to see how long volunteers would last in a branch library, they damned well be prepared for anyone and anything, there'll be no sitting around reading books all bloody day. Social workers, mental health workers, children's nannies, cleaners, career advisors, IT specialists, human dictionaries, counsellors and riot police...Just some of the hats we wear every day, eh?"

Uniformed officers

Here in Wales we thought we had weathered the storm, but we have been wondering why there has been a push towards staff wearing uniforms (when an informal look, and approachability, has previously been part of the library image). It appears that the old One Stop Shop idea has turned up again - which means combining council services, so that library staff get replaced by desks staffed by housing benefit officers, citizen's advice bureau staff, etc.

Hence the uniforms. Officers.

Whether they will also get training in running a library (see the above comments from front line staff) or library staff are simply expected to add these skills and responsibilities to their already crowded days, doesn't seem clear yet. We'll see.

I am, as they say, not optimistic. The plans are being made by people who probably have a private library in the West Wing of their homes (even if many of them maybe don't read very much). It's hard to believe they might understand...
Related Posts with Thumbnails