Today marks the first of a serious of interviews with those selfless individuals who are standing for CILIP Council.  These are the people who will, if elected, effectively lead the organisation next year.  Why should you care?  Well, the need for an effective advocacy (dare I say campaigning) national organisation for library professionals has never been more obvious, at least in public libraries.  This is the organisation that represents professional library staff and is not beholden to Government or to councillors. It can do respected research, it has full-time paid members of staff to assist and it is listened to in the media simply because of its status. So, make sure you get the right people in to run it.

The full video of the hustings is embedded below and the first interview, with the “neat, funny and impatient” David Stewart, is directly below it. The interviews are deliberately a mixture of the serious and less so in order to give a more rounded view of the individual.  To see them in action, watch the video of the hustings and for their manifestos, see this page.


Cilip Election Hustings

CILIP election hustings 

13 Questions to David Stewart BA (Hons) Dip Lib FCLIP

Election hopeful David Stewart

Election hopeful David Stewart

1. Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Sir Muir Gray – his passionate belief in the power of knowledge and evidence to underpin everything that happens in the health service has been truly inspirational. “knowledge is the enemy of disease” is still the most powerful message I’ve heard about the value of what librarians do

2. What was the worst mistake in your career?

Afraid no details here but suffice it to say – you know that saying, “you never make the same mistake twice”? I promise you, you never make it a third time!

3.  What was your best career move?

Two parts to my answer – the first shows that circumstance can sometimes be more powerful than any plan you might have.

Being at the end of the line of graduate trainees in Beatrice Pinkerton’s office at the University of Birmingham in 1978; she was Head of Reader Services and decided our destinies. Being last in the row I got sent to the Barnes Medical Library – and that started my career in health libraries.

My move to be Director of Information at the Royal Society of Medicine in 1996 was life-changing; I was only there three years but it gave me the opportunity to meet all the non-NHS, non-university health librarians in London – and it also made me much more reflective in terms of what I am good at, and what I’m not good at.

4.      Who’s been the best and the worst minister responsible for libraries in your lifetime?

I can’t honestly say that I remember a single one of them! This either bodes badly for government or for my memory.

5.      Where are or when were you happiest

If we’re talking about work-related, then I have to say the first time I walked through the doors of “my” first library, i.e. the first one where I was manager. It was Greenwich and Bexley School of Nursing, the main library was at the Brook Hospital on Shooters Hill in Greenwich – and the shelves were bright red steel. Absolutely magical.

6.      Do you believe that e-books will entirely replace printed books?

No. Books are too beautiful. I have over 3,000 at home and I’m still buying print.

7.      What book should every librarian/information professional read?

The trouble with medical journals, Richard Smith. (RSM 2006)

8.      What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Thornton’s chocolate.

9.      Clarkson or Clark? Would you rather watch Top Gear or Civilisation?

Oh dear! Clark and civilisation every time.

10.  What personal ambition do you still have?

I’d still like to contribute to CILIP at a national level and somehow survive the next NHS re-organisation, probably scheduled for 2015.

11.  Summarise your personality in three words

Neat, funny and impatient

12.  Do you have any regrets about becoming a librarian/information professional?

None at all. I met a fantastic school librarian when I was 16 and knew then I wanted to be a librarian. I’ve never, ever regretted it.

13.  If you weren’t a librarian/information professional what would you be doing instead?

It would be something to do with food. Or chocolate. Or cooking. Or eating. Restaurant critic appeals…


  • Society releases its research: Author Visits in Schools – Society of Authors. “The Society of Authors has gathered evidence from school teaching staff about the importance of author visits in promoting Reading for Pleasure. Our findings show that it is necessary for author visits, school libraries and other literacy strategies to be recognised by Ofsted, school libraries should be protected and teachers would benefit from more support and training.” … “99.4% (all those who had organised an author visit) considered author visits to be a”Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, has written to Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, presenting this evidence in order to encourage Ofsted to aknowledge the importance of school libraries and validate this by making it part of their inspections process. “n invaluable enrichment that encouraged reading for pleasure, wider reading and creative writing. “.
  • Summer reading challenge – Reading Agency (press release).  “Last year 750,000 children took part in the Summer Reading Challenge through libraries across the UK.  United Kingdom Literary Association (UKLA) research on the impact of the Summer Reading Challenge found that as well as stemming the ‘summer holiday dip’ in children’s reading achievements, teachers interviewed noted the social benefits of involvement with the Challenge, and praised the materials and website resources.” … “105,000 children are signed up to The Summer Reading Challenge website which had 3.6 million page views over the summer.  The site is available all year round, encouraging children to continue reading with competitions, challenges, author interviews, news, and the Book Sorter, a simple-to-use tool for children to get book recommendations based on titles read and rated by other children: summerreadingchallenge.org.uk”
  • What Libraries Mean to Me – Gladstone’s Library. “Libraries foster self-education, empower people, act as centres of wisdom and pleasure. During my residency here, I have seen so many people from different walks of life relish this wonderful library. Public libraries are under attack in the current climate of austerity, and we must fight to keep them.”

International news

  • Decline of Wikipedia – MIT Technology Review.  Notes declines in reviewers and the skewed coverage of the site.
  • Librarian’s Love of Books Began in Her Struggles to Read – New York Times (USA). Librarian who had a tough childhood and was illiterate now provides inspiration to the youth in the library she manages.
  • Library-hosted psychic event is tacit endorsement – Doubtful News (USA). “It is being billed as an entertainment event. I think this is disingenuous since allowing her to appear is publicity and tacit endorsement. It’s also very popular so they aren’t going to get rid of it soon. The skeptical view is correct here but ignored out of what it seen to be just fun and entertainment. But Simon makes a valid point which applies to all psychics, “If people want to pay psychics, that’s their right. But for the library to pay her and market this event, I don’t feel it’s right.[…] The idea to be able to contact lost loved ones is very powerful, and I think she’s really preying on those emotions.””

“Today Spain will be celebrating the Library Day, created in 1997 by  the  Spanish Association of Friends of Children and Young Adults Books with the sponsor of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. Each year a different Spanish region is selected to hold a celebration event, and an author and an illustrator from that region are selected to make the promotional poster. This year it has been celebrated in collaboration with the Castilla y León Government, and the illustration is from Andrés Rábago, El Roto, while the text of Laura Gallego. The events will take place in Segovia, you can check the full programme here.”  Naple Blog

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Public Libraries – In the Library with the Lead Pipe (Australia).  “The early founders of free public libraries intended them to achieve particular outcomes: a place for working people to access the wisdom of the classics, to socialise and to become more informed and educated citizens and avoid spending their time idling, lonely or drunk. There is, however, little incentive for public librarians to undertake the research required to test whether these outcomes are being achieved. “

UK news by authority

  • Birmingham – Gardening at the Library of Birmingham – Urbanvegwhg. “Of the hundreds of volunteers who put themselves forward only a handful were lucky enough to be chosen to work on the gardens. The volunteers who got through were then trained in basic gardening techniques at Urban Veg with help from the Winterbourne gardeners.”
Francesca Simon Birmingham

Francesca Simon speaking to schoolchildren at Library of Birmingham

Birmingham – “On Monday 14 October bestselling children’s author Francesca Simon met local children at the Library of Birmingham’s new Studio Theatre, to talk about her new novel The Lost Gods  and answer their questions about her work, books and reading. In an event organised by The Reading Agency and The Library of Birmingham, she met around 250 10-12 year olds to talk about The Lost Gods, the follow-up to her popular 2012 novel The Sleeping Army,  in which Norse gods find themselves in modern Britain. (Francesca is also well-loved for her Horrid Henry series).”

  • Brent – Letter from All Souls College and comment from FKRL – Save Kensal Rise Library. “While we welcome All Souls College’s indication set out under the second Paragraph of their letter of 10th October 2013, that they have reached agreement with Mr. Gillick  the Developer that, space of  a minimum 1,500 sq feet within the building will be made available for library use, we are somewhat bemused by the reference at Paragraph five of the same letter by All Souls College’s  statement that   “as Senior Land lord, he (i.e Mr. Gillick ) will have final say in the matter”.
  • Buckinghamshire – Library shake-up: ‘Can I have two pints of lager and Fifty Shades of Grey please? – Bucks Herald. “Library books could soon be available to borrow from pubs, post offices and shops to counter the impact of cuts to the mobile library service. Bucks County Council is consulting with parish councils, community and residents’ groups for their ideas on how the library service can reach people in rural under increasingly tighter budgets. From next month the mobile library service will visit villages monthly rather than fortnightly.”

“The creation of 13 community libraries has reduced costs by half a million pounds and the library service has saved another £300,000 through reducing back office duplication, integrating teams, reviewing routes and timings of couriers, and organising book suppliers to deliver ‘shelf-ready’ stock with jackets, barcodes and labels already applied. Another £100,000 in savings will be made through revising mobile library schedules from November to visit once a month instead of fortnightly”

  • Hertfordshire – Date of opening of library at 96 Shenley Road in Borehamwood announced – Borehamwood Times. “The new library, which will be across three floors, will feature books, talking books and DVDs to borrow, free wi-fi, public computers, study space for students and activities for children and young people. A council spokesman said overall access to library services will increase, with an extra hour added to current opening hours. The library will close on or before 6pm every day but Thursday.”

“It will also run an express service Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings during which only the ground floor will be open. During this time members of the public can use self service machines to issue and return books, borrow popular books and use the computers. All other services will be unavailable.”

  • Hertfordshire – Have your say on future of libraries in Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar – Welwyn Hatfield Times. “The authority is seeking to develop a new 10 year strategy for the county’s libraries “to ensure it can continue to provide a modern and relevant service”. The consultation will run until the end of the year.”
  • Merton – Extends library opening hours – Merton Council. “Libraries that will benefit from extended opening hours and more support from January are Donald Hope Library in Colliers Wood and West Barnes Library. From January, Donald Hope Library will open Fridays from 9.30am – 7.00pm and West Barnes Library will be given extra support on Mondays, a move that is supported by the local Friends group.”
  • Moray – Councillor asked to explain why he ‘misled’ community over Libraries – Inside Moray. “Under attack from the group is Heldon & Laich’s Independent councillor, Eric McGillivray.  The Hopeman-based member has been asked to explain why he told the community association that Libraries were at the bottom of those services the public wished to see cut. The Council’s own charts produced from the consultation workshops held throughout Moray show that Libraries were given a relatively high priority by the public.” … ““In fact, Libraries scored higher than Environmental Health, Nurseries, Flood Prevention and a host of other services which are not being subjected to cuts.”
  • Suffolk – Booked Out – Woodbridge Library October 2013 – Deben Radio. “Sophie Green is joined by library staff and customers to review books and films available on loan from Woodbridge Library. In the October ‘Booked Out’ programme we discussed and read some of our favourite poems available from Suffolk Libraries. If you enjoy poetry or would like to add a comment we would love to hear from you on the library blog at http://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/woodbridge-library” or on ‘like’ Woodbridge Library Suffolk on Facebook.”
  • Swindon – Council launch consultation to slash £300,000 from town’s library budget – Swindon Advertiser. A further £300k cut to libraries budget: cut in managers, less programmes, £50k less stock, less opening hours and perhaps closures. Other options include not replacing retiring librarians and getting smaller mobile library vehicles when they’re replaced.

“Mrs Burnham has been fighting to keep smaller libraries open in Swindon since 2007 and said every year she has had to return with her placards to lobby support for the service. “Ever since I’ve taken an interest, libraries have been cut, and cut, and cut,” said Mrs Burnham. “The savings involved have been minimal, but their impact on quality is great. “Until councillors acquire a mindset that recognises libraries’ value and protect this statutory service, residents will be forced to launch petitions and march about with banners again to make their voices heard.”

  • Wiltshire – Have your say on new Corsham library – Gazette and Herald. “The library will be part of the new Springfield Campus, in Beechfield Road, which is expected to open next year.” … “Wiltshire councillor Jonathon Seed, cabinet member for campuses, said: “Libraries are an essential part of our communities and we want people to tell us now what they would like to see in their library so their feedback can determine the shape and layout of the services we provide in the future.”