Thursday, 25 July 2013

Is that gross breadsticks or net breadsticks?

The public library service is in crisis, it needs help. Large numbers of libraries are being cut, the rest are being hollowed out and handed over to volunteers. What's left might still look like a library service on a smaller scale but like the set of Coronation Street its a wooden facade, designed to look like a street but it only has two dimensions and is supported by a wooden frame and in this metaphor the frame isn't librarians is volunteers and the facade will not stand up to the wind and will fall as the volunteers are not strong enough to hold it up.

Campaigners despite legal challenges and huge campaigns cannot breach the bubble of creative inertia that surrounds the DCMS. All councils have to do is get the process right with the correct boxes ticked and they can close as many libraries as they like and hand the rest over to unwilling volunteers. The DCMS and the minister in my view are breaking the 1964 public libraries act both in spirit and in fact and we are currently unable to stop them. The civil servants in the DCMS have failed the public who they are supposed to serve. The minister in opposition was a lion in defence of libraries and was calling for intervention in the Wirral publically, putting forward a early day motion and calling for intervention and saying if it didn't happen libraries being a statutory requirement was meaningless. Now a couple of years on and hundreds of libraries closed/probably many times that handed over to unwilling volunteers later and there isn't a crisis. We know politicians can be two face at the best of times but Vaizey has really raised the bar with his contrary positions on public libraries. His line "I don't accept the public library service is in crisis" goes down in history for me with other great political lies of the last few years like:

  • Saddam Hussein's regime is despicable, he is developing weapons of mass destruction
  • I did not have sexual relations with that women
  • Read my lips, no new taxes
  • I pledge to vote against any increase in tuition fees in the next parliament. 

We cannot allow him to keep repeating the lie unchallenged. The great line of Cicero that politicians are not born, they are excreted was surely meant for Ed and his conduct over libraries. I take my hat off to Jo Richardson and Tom Roper for putting forward the no confidence vote in Vaizey, they have stepped up and shown great courage and integrity in putting this motion and I hope all their colleagues can back them to the hilt, it would be very wrong to lobby on the side of Vaizey. I hope therefore CILIP can come together with one voice and make it clear to the DCMS and Vaizey that their head in the sand approach to the superintendence of the library service is a insult to the staff and users of the library service. I know things can be fractious between campaigners and librarians and we won't agree on everything but I hope we can agree on this, Vaizey isn't doing the job he is paid to do.

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