Sunday, 25 August 2013

It takes two to quango

I'm trying to get my head round why the public library service is thriving in America at the same time the library service in the UK is declining. Book issues are on the decline in the UK but the reasons for this are unclear, the library service has had its funding quietly cut in the past few years, even before the disastrous hand over to the big society and the closure of hundreds of libraries. The few bits of information I know on the differences are the libraries in America have one library authority and in the ALA a muscular, strong body that speaks out and lobbies effectively on libraries behalf. These are just things people tell me so I hope the above is all correct. If the libraries over there are thriving, why is nobody learning the lessons from our cousins over the pond? I know there is lots about America I don't like, the lack of universal health care (until recently), the bonkers right wing tea party, their ill judged interventions in the middle east and apathy to the slow drip destruction of palestine, the terrible political process that means there will only ever be two parties and their dodgy funding via super pacs etc. These are my views obviously and I'm sure there are plenty who disagree. But there is much to admire about Americans, they are a young country still and Americans really do have a "can do" attitude that is much to be admired, they produce fantastic comics, great sitcoms and have driven the world economy for my entire lifetime. When presented with a challenge they really do rise to it and get the job done. And they have a constitution which I know some on the right skew, there is only a right to bear arms as part of a government backed militia for example, but it really is one of the most important documents in political history, written by true secular visionaries.

CILIP, The SCL, LGA etc should really be trying to learn as much as they can to try and see if there is anything we can learn from them. I don't mean sending the lazy, intellectually incurious, ideological politicians on a freebie fact finding mission, but in this age or VOIP a regular dialogue online via hangouts, web casts or Skype. I'm sure there must be stuff they could learn from us too.

There has to be more to it than the can do attitude and a vastly superior professional body, we need to take the time to find out why.