The SCL response to the CIPFA statistics has got me really riled up. The text in full:
"The December 2013 CIPFA figures show that libraries are working to
achieve the right balance between maintaining and building upon the
service that communities depend on and the necessity to reduce costs. In
the face of not only a changing library landscape but completely new
ways in which people access information, public libraries have innovated
and expanded the services they offer, always in tune with local
These new ways of working have meant that more members of the
community have the opportunity to volunteer in libraries in different
roles–part of a 9 percent increase in volunteers across all sectors
since 2005 as people have become more focused on local decision-making.
SCL is proud to represent a service that in 2013 saw a record number
of children take part in the Summer Reading Challenge in
libraries–810,089, a 9% increase on participation on 2012–and also the
opening of new flagship libraries from Birmingham to Liverpool."
I have highlighted the bits that really grate. We have a huge problem if this is how the SCL really think things are or is this just dog whistling to show the powers that be they are onside with their "localism" agenda? You know, the one where you pay all the tax and have to provide a library to yourself or it closes and everything is rosy in the garden. Armies of happy smiling volunteers and retired librarians all running libraries to allow low paid library managers and assistants to be sacked saving little or no money, that one.
Councils and councillors with very few exceptions have no idea of the true value or worth of libraries, career politicians, straight from Uni, sucked into the bosom of the party as Spads, taking large allowances as councillors and who know nothing about the real world spout all the blue sky nonsense that flies in the face of reality, they'll be too busy lobbying for a safe seat in 2014 to worry about the broken communities they've left behind. They haven't seen how libraries transform lives, they've lived in a narrow ideological bubble, how would they know, its not like senior librarians have done a great job of informing them. The Guardian poll at time of writing (15/12/2013) had the answer to the question "Should libraries rely on volunteers?" at 94% no to 6% yes. In their mission statement the SCL claim to act behalf of local people, perhaps they should reflect upon that a bit. The above seems to be a ringing blue sky endorsement of the hypocritical minister and his policy of inaction and wilful ignorance. I'm all for trying to be positive about the things that libraries do, but this statement from the SCL is out of touch, wilfully dishonest and/or deluded. If the most senior librarians in the land really think communities are happy to run libraries themselves, the councils are in touch with community need and libraries have achieved the right balance then they have no business being in charge of a library service I'm afraid, they've lost the plot. I thought the SCL had started to turn the corner, but clearly the old SCL that is subservient to the unevidenced, ideological, non-money saving dogma of the current regime hasn't gone away. It has been all change recently at CILIP, seemingly for the better with regards to public libraries, perhaps the SCL board should seek a mandate from those they claim to represent, the library users and become a elected body, rather then elevation from within their own ranks. They clearly don't see the reality on the ground or reflect the views of library users.