I wasn't going to write anything on this but sadly I am far too angry after days of thinking about it that I have to vent. In my head I have a little Venn diagram of the enemies of libraries and it has who you what you would expect in it: David Cameron, Big Society, Keith Mitchell, LGA, Ed Vaizey and the DCMS etc. In the past few days CILIP has crept into the enemies box. The reason for this is their stance on job substitution and using volunteers in public libraries.
They have changed their policy on job substitution as to not be too rigid. Here is the text:
“However Council agreed at its meeting in February 2010 that this policy was too rigid and failed to reflect present day realities where significant expenditure reductions had to be made. Some authorities had already introduced a number of voluntary-managed libraries (e.g. Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire) and there was also a strong policy steer to increase community engagement in the running and management of libraries that had emerged before the recession, for instance as part of the Big Lottery Community Libraries Programme. “
CILIP are the chartered institute of library and information professionals. The vision of clip is:
"A fair and economically prosperous society is underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge.”
And their mission and the reason they exist is to:
“Promote and support the people who work to deliver this vision.”
“Be the leading voice for information, library and knowledge practitioners, working to advocate strongly, provide unity through shared values and develop skills and excellence.”
CILIP’s membership is libraries in all sectors not just public libraries and they provide lots of expensive training and courses. I’m not a librarian so I have no idea how good they are at this stuff. Sadly their main goal to promote and support the people who deliver their vision they have betrayed.
This policy only applies to public sector libraries and despite their vision to promote the people who pay their membership fees they are happy to allow those people to be replaced by volunteers like me. There is so much wrong with this stance that I have to make it into a list:
1. Rural libraries are mainly the ones in the cuts firing line, replacing a couple of part-time library managers (not librarians) doesn’t save actually save any money because of the number of volunteers required. I can prove this is the case in Oxfordshire and I think the same applies elsewhere.
2. How will CILIP continue to exist when its fee paying members are replaced by volunteers?
3. Cameron himself is quoted as saying “the big society isn’t about cuts, it’s about making existing services better”
4. Volunteering England is specifically against job substitution of paid staff with volunteers, quote from the chief exec: “There is a danger that volunteers are seen as a way of reducing costs, and that undermines staff jobs and is extremely damaging to the perception of volunteering.”
5. You have handed the ideological morons who live in a bubble of simplicity a massive weapon to sack your members. However nuanced and pragmatic your intention this has severely undermined the library campaigners up and down the country.
6. When the economy recovers will you reverse this stance, this seems to be the only reason for it?
I feel like I have been kicked in the teeth by this, so much time campaigning to keep professional staff in the rural libraries against the misguided ideological attacks and its completely undermined by the professional body for librarians who believe its ok to replace their members with volunteers. I’m going to email the current members of the CILIP council and ask them why they are against libraries.
I'm also going to volunteer to be chief librarian of Oxfordshire County Council, this should save about 5 of the threatened libraries.
Some links if you want to read a more coherent and well-argued dissection of this nonsense:
Ian Clark’s storify:
The volunteering England policy:
And the ill-advised nonsense from CILIP: