Comment

There is continuing anger over CILIP’s decision to avoid the outright condemnation of replacing paid library staff with volunteers.  Library campaigners (this one or this one or this one) are understandably not happy with this absence of a clear black and white decision.  More potentially worrying for the professional association is the reaction of “ordinary” public librarians. Many are saying they will not renew their subscriptions.  
Phil Bradley, the organisation’s widely respected president, has written a post about the volunteer policy [NB. I have edited this sentence.  The original post said he had “defended” this policy.  Phil has emailed to make it clear that CILIP and especially himself are against substitution.] and has asked for the membership to let him know their views.  He makes good points in his article that people should read.  Certainly, the CILIP staff I know (and had the good fortune to meet last week) are hardly enemies of library workers.  They give every appearance of being good hardworking people who care deeply about how they are seen by the membership.  Phil also makes clear that the organisation is doing all it can to fight for paid workers, short of a clear policy statement.  However, in such dark times as this, falling short of a clear policy statement against substitution is seen by many as just that … falling short. So far, comments are agreed that the circumstances demand a principled stance against volunteering but the current policy is “wishy washy”. 
One of the points Phil makes is that the policy was decided on two years ago.  Two things explain the furore now.  The first is that the policy is on the CILIP website but few would have read it.  This is not surprising as policies are hardly given prominence on any website.   Furthermore, it would occur to few that a professional association would not directly oppose the replacement of its subscribers with the unpaid.  As one campaigner points out today, even Volunteering England is against such practices.
Secondly, two years ago the subject was not the hotbed of controversy that it is now.  Back then, direct substitution was more theoretical than real.  It’s only been in the last year that the cuts have started to hit home. Now, as this article today shows, it scares a lot of library workers.  Hardly surprising when one-tenth of paid library workers are losing their jobs.
So, those concerned should, in as clear but impersonal way, let CILIP know their views.  Comment on Phil’s article or, even better, email the councillors who are the ones who decide on policy.  

News

  • Bring on brand-name parks and libraries – Daily News (USA).  hat captures my imagination — probably because I work in the corporate sponsorship business — is the fact that Citi Bike represents a new way for private dollars to help make possible a program with important public benefits….” … “Millions of people visit the public libraries every year; naming rights deals for branches in Queens and Brooklyn could be very lucrative for those cash-starved institutions. Or, what about the Celebrity Cruise Lines Staten Island Ferry?”.  Author of article “is a partner at Bryan Cave LLP whose work includes naming rights agreements”.

Great stand-up poem by a lover of the public library.
“I like to pretend this is where all my tax dollars are going to” 

  • Indian government spent Rs 4.5 Cr in 2010-11 for digitization and modernisation of public libraries – Medianama (India). “The minister stated that RRRLF has released two separate grants to public libraries worth Rs 4.5 crores (Rs 4,53,29,800) and Rs 10 crore (Rs 10,19,94,316) in the year 2010-11 for modernization and building renovation purposes, respectively. The agency had previously released similar grants in 2009-10 and 2008-09 for the same purposes”.   A crore is ten million, there are 81 rupees to the pound.
  • “Librarians against Libraries and Librarians Association”: CILIP changes its name to LALALA – Question Everything. “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.”.  Reasons against the current lack of an explicit statement in CILIP policy are:
    • “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.
    • How will CILIP continue to exist when its fee paying members are replaced by volunteers?
    • Cameron himself is quoted as saying “the big society isn’t about cuts, it’s about making existing services better”
    • 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.”
    • 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. 
    • When the economy recovers will you reverse this stance as this seems to be the only reason for it?”
  • Nail in public libraries’ coffins – Copyright and Technology (USA).  “There it was, on the entire back page of the A section of the New York Times a few days ago, at a likely cost of over US $100,000: a full-page ad from Amazon touting free “lending” of all of the Harry Potter e-books for members of Amazon’s $79/year Amazon Prime program who own Kindle e-readers, starting next month.” … “With the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, there are no due dates, books can be borrowed as frequently as once a month, and there are no limits on how many people can simultaneously borrow the same title—so readers never have to wait in line for the book they want.”
  • Volunteers in public libraries – CILIP.   Phil Bradley, the organisation’s president, defends its official policy, including its omission of a statement explicitly against substitution of paid staff by volunteers.  “Volunteers cannot be expected to, nor should they, run a library, because a library as we all know is rather more than a collection of books…”.  but “…is it better to provide a partial service, run by volunteers, or no service at all?”.  “Unfortunately, what we want and what we can have are two very different things, and this is recognised in the phrase relating to ‘present day realities’.” Comments so far below the paper report that the policy is “wishy washy” and open to misinterpretation.
CILIP has refused requests to publish advertisements in the Update magazine where it is clear that volunteers will be replacing paid staff. CILIP has also been approached on numerous occasions to run training courses for volunteers to provide them with basic skill sets. All of these have been refused, and will continue to be refused … CILIP does not, has not, and will not train volunteers, who may, have, or potentially will replace a paid, professional member as long as we are aware that circumstance may exist.”

If you feel that CILIP is not clear or robust enough on its stance, then please say so. You have always been able to say so, and CILIP has, I believe been transparent in its workings by publishing statements on the website, but I’m also keen to use my blog as a conduit.”

  • Volunteers: what organisations say and what they do – Information Overload.   “Volunteering and job substitution is clearly the hot-topic issue for library and information professionals at present”.  Questions over whether CILIP is standing up for its members enough on this issue. “I think that one of the things we should be doing is holding organisations using volunteers to replace paid staff to account over whether or not they are living up to their own objectives and promotional statements on economic development.”  Points out that using volunteers damages the local economy to the general impoverishment of all.

Changes

Local News

  • Brent – 167,004 fewer library visits concealed by Brent Council – Wembley Matters. “Ahead of a meeting tonight at Brent Town Hall, at which a “progress” report will present what SOS Libraries claim is misleading and incorrect information on the so-called “Libraries Transformation Project” to the new Labour executive, Brent SOS Libraries has submitted its own report on the library closures (LINK). It shows: There have been 167,004 fewer library visits since half of the borough’s libraries were closed in October compared with the same period year on year. 158,809 fewer books have been issued. Library visits and lending have fallen 20% will continue to fall with the imminent closure of Kilburn and demolition of Willesden Green libraries. This has been a net loss of 191 opening hours per week. Most of the users of the closed libraries are not using the remaining libraries, as the council claims.”
  • Croydon/Wandsworth – Civica pull out of Croydon/Wandsworth privatization process – Stop the privatization of public libraries.   “Civica, one of the shortlisted companies bidding for the Croydon\Wandsworth libraries contract has pulled out stating; ‘Having undertaken an internal risk assessment and considering the potential risk to the Civica brand of taking on a contract which is outside their core competence, they felt they could not take that risk and must withdraw’. This has allowed a space in the process for an in-house bid from Wandsworth Council”
  • Croydon – Council cock-up stops comments on library consultation – Inside Croydon.   “Croydon Council’s website was offline yesterday, “for maintenance”, preventing the public accessing the Upper Norwood library consultation online before the official deadline, which was to be midnight on Sunday, May 20. Following complaints, the council extended the deadline by a day, until midnight on Monday May 21 – although being a weekday, with many residents at work, it may prove less convenient than being able to fill in the form at the weekend. Click here for the link to the consultation.”.  At last week’s meeting on the closure, “Councillor Sara “Book Token” Bashford had five security guards in attendance“.
  • Durham – Plans to outsource public services on hold – Northern Echo.   “Cost-cutting plans to out-source taxpayer-owned theatres, museums, libraries and leisure centres have been put on hold, amid doubts over the hoped-for savings.” … “It was hoped the move would save at least £1m a year in business rates and VAT and open new fundraising opportunities. However, a Government review of how business rates work has caused the scheme to be halted.”.  Result of review expected this Summer. “Should the outcome of the review be positive, we will be putting the project back on track at the earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime work is already underway to identify the savings which we will have to make should trust status not prove the best way forward”
  • Kirklees – Librarian accused of intimidating would-be Big Society volunteers – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “The council’s chief librarian Carol Stump wrote to staff concerning a laminated sign about the consultation at the counter of a library in Kirklees – believed to be Slaithwaite. She wrote: “Some of the wording was misleading in so much as it talked about ‘volunteering would mean staff losing their jobs’. This could be seen as deliberately discouraging people to take part in the consultation process.“We also discussed the fact that staff should remain impartial at all times and cannot be seen to be influencing members of the public in any way.” Mrs Stump added: “We have had a complaint from a member of the public about the poster and perceived intimidation of potential volunteers.”
  • Surrey – More views sought on libraries volunteer training – Surrey News (County Council).   “Users of the 10 Surrey libraries proposed as community partnerships are being asked about how volunteers should be trained to help, in particular, the young, the elderly and people with special needs.” … “They will also consider the findings of this further consultation, which is asking users of the 10 libraries to give their views about what equalities training should be provided for volunteers at community partnered libraries.”
  • Torbay – Changes to opening times at Torbay libraries – This is the West Country.   “The opening times of libraries across the Bay are to change from Monday 2 July. The changes are being introduced as part of the council’s ongoing budget pressures and have been carried out following extensive consultation with library customers.” … “”Unfortunately doing nothing is not an option and following consultation with our library users we have taken the decision to reduce the opening hours at each of the libraries.”.  Council meeting Friends groups to “to jointly explore ways to protect the service in the next few years.”