Monday, 21 May 2012

Everybody fights nobody quits (except CILIP)

Forgive the silly title, its a quote from Starship Troopers and it popped into my head when I read the CILIP letter. I have had a response from John Dolan chair of the CILIP council as I sent my last blog post to all the council members asking whey they had betrayed library campaigners. This is the email I sent:

Dear CILIP members,

My name is Trevor Craig, I am not a member or a librarian. I am a campaigner in Oxfordshire campaigning to retain professional staff in libraries. There are various reasons for this. I have written a blog post on your recently discovered policy change on volunteers:
Can you please explain why you as the professional body for librarians are undermining efforts of campaigners like myself to retain staff in libraries? 

With kind regards,

And here is the full response which although I'm not happy with the content I'm glad they have responded since I'm not a member:
"Dear Trevor,
I am writing on behalf of CILIP’s Council members in response to your request for information. CILIP Council’s policy on volunteering was agreed in 2010 and is kept under review, as are all CILIP policies. Our policy states the following:‘CILIP acknowledges the contribution that volunteers make to libraries, enriching the services they provide and helping to sustain their viability. In order to optimise the value of that contribution it should form part of a professionally managed public library service that has at its core sufficient paid staff to ensure the direction, development and quality of the service provided. Volunteers are not 'free' and need proper management, training and development. In many cases a volunteers’ coordinator should be appointed to ensure appropriate management and recognition of the value of volunteers.’This policy has been public since it was agreed and the discussion about it earlier this year was in the public meeting of CILIP Council in March. Papers were published and are still freely available. The policy acknowledges that volunteers have for many years been a part of the work of public libraries and have had a great contribution to make. The difficulty for everyone is that now they are being asked to take on more of the delivery of the core service rather than ‘added value’ aspects of it.CILIP has consistently refused to publish advertisements for volunteer jobs where it is clear that they are substituting for paid professional roles, or to deliver training courses to volunteers, despite a steady stream of requests. We have said that libraries must be managed and run by sufficient paid staff. However, at the same time we are dealing with harsh choices and realities for local communities. In many cases, if volunteers do not come forward to support the library services, the libraries will be closed. These volunteers cannot provide a library service as we all know it as they are not skilled and trained. We have made a clear stand against this and against any local authority that considers this acceptable.
CILIP Council members are honestly facing a dilemma about their professional feelings and those of our members and at the same time, the good of a community who may lose all library provision unless volunteers are part of the equation. We are committed to listening to and discussing this situation with our members, many of whom work in these libraries.Volunteers, and CILIP, are not ‘the enemy’. The enemy is ignorance of the value and the importance of library services to a literate, healthy and prosperous society, and that is the enemy that we are trying to combat.Best wishes"

It doesn't really answer any of my concerns sadly, I believe the stance of CILIP however well intentioned is (has) sent the wrong signal to the ideologues running councils that they can save money by replacing paid staff with volunteers. It doesn't make financial sense and CILIP have taken this stance without any evidence, they have just bowed to the perceived political wind.  I fail to see how job substitution is a good thing for libraries, CILIP or its members. If I were a CILIP member paying £19.40 a month I be asking for my money back.

The fight goes on, CILIP sadly for now stay in my enemies of libraries venn diagram.

Here is a link to the letter:

Link to Johanna's blog which has all the details:

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