2013 was a pretty terrible year for CILIP’s leadership.  Despite one-sided reporting, the flagship rebranding exercise (remember “ILPUK”?) got voted down at the AGM and, at the same meeting, the membership decided to pass a vote of no confidence in Ed Vaizey: a move which the Chief Exec and much of the Council disagreed with.  Finally, at the end of the year, the Chair of the Council, perhaps  associated too much with the unpopular rebranding, got voted out.

But that was then, this is a new year and there are new hopes. However, those new hopes took a bit of a dashing when I looked at the proposals for changing how CILIP are governed.  Much in it is good but the points that strike me are:

  • Almost no mention of how to ensure the Chief Executive (who as full-time and in charge of the organisation has immense power)  follows the interest of members. The part-time unelected President (of which more below) gets to manage the Chief Exec: something which may work well or may work spectacularly badly.
  • The President and Chair roles are merged and are no longer elected by the membership.  That’s right: the membership gets no direct say in who the leader of CILIP is going to be.  Now it’s fair to say that the votes for President have hardly been hard-fought in recent years but to give up on elections in this way seems a bit  depressing.  Remember, democracy is the worst from of government apart from all of the others.
  • One third of the Board’s members do not need to come from the library/information sector and, indeed, do not even have to be a member.  The membership has no direct say in who they are. One third is a very big proportion and could presumably act en bloc in a way that would be hard to stop by anyone else.
  • The President/Chair can be one of the co-opted members and thus never be voted on in any way by the membership of CILIP.

Librarians and Information Professionals are supposed to be the most democratic, neutral and fair profession there is and the new governance effectively allows for an unelected leader voted in largely by unelected Board members? And even if that works well then the Chief Executive can quietly control the whole kit and caboodle from behind the scenes anyway?

Time for a rethink, I think.

I commend to all of you are still CILIP members the chance to help shape the proposals differently. Email web@cilip.org.uk with your views.  Or risk having even less of a say in the organisation you pay for.



  • Philosophy cafes Aberdeenshire. “vibrant street level discussion on the issues of the day”.

National news

  • Bookseller front page – BookSeller.  Magazine devotes front cover, two page article and part of editorial to the plight of public libraries (behind paywall).
  • Chairman of the Board: CILIP governance review – Leon’s Library Blog. “First let me say I am not against the governance review and there are sensible and sound proposals put forward that I agree with, particularly around the issue of merging the roles of Leader of Council and President. I also support the move to make Cilip a more modern, flexible organisation. That said, there is one element which, if it goes forward, strikes me as being deeply undemocratic and has the potential to lessen accountability; that is the role of the appointed members of the board.” … ” I believe that Cilip should maintain a direct causal link between the membership and the elected role of President. For me that means only elected members of the Board, with a legitimate mandate from the membership, should elect the head of our professional body.”

“This raises the possibility of a non-library/information professional being elected to the President’s post. The stipulation that says the President has to be a personal member is ambiguous; it doesn’t state for how long or at what level. As such, an appointed member could join Cilip for a short period in order to qualify for election.” … “Comments and views regarding the review can be emailed to web@cilip.org.uk”

  • Lucy Tammam: Designer  – Youtube / British Library. “The British Library, the world’s largest library, based in London has unveiled a new online film series which aims to inspire people to use their resources to create something new.” … free talks include “Intellectual property for Creatives Thursday, 27 March 2014 -18.30 – 20.30, Introducing Social Media for Small Business Wed 19 March 2014, 14.00 – 17.00, Inspiring Entrepreneurs – Internet Icons Tuesday 25 February, 18.30 – 20.00 and Insider Trends: How to spot a trend Mon 24 February 2014, 14.00 – 17.00 and Tue 25 March 2014, 14.00 – 17.00″
  • Four views on volunteer libraries: Sue Charteris, AnneMarie Naylor, the WI and Ian Anstice – Public Libraries News. Notes from the speeches at the Manchester Umbrella conference in 2013 on the subject of whether volunteer libraries would mean the death of the public library service.
  • Governance FAQs – CILIP. Suggested rules include removing the right of members to vote for President and to have a third of the Board co-opted on and without the need for them to be CILIP members themselves. [Oh dear – Ed.]
  • Public libraries and economic impact – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  “We all know that the government view the arts and culture in terms of financial return and we all know that there is an overriding agenda to commercialise, divest and privatise libraries so it’s only fitting that ACE concentrate on ‘economic impact’. Add to this the fact that the panel of ‘experts’ for the forthcoming Sieghart report into public libraries is loaded with private interests, and to be fair 2 or 3 library people, and you can start to smell an agenda.”
  • We must defend public libraries from the threat of a market-based ideological framework – LSE. “Since the global financial crash, public libraries in the UK have come under threat in the face of local government budget cuts. It is the logic of market values and profitability, rather than by a concern for inequalities, community and inclusive access to information and literature, which is the criteria upon which this area of public spending is being judged. Daniel Bailey argues that we should not apply the market logic to public libraries, but instead see them as an essential public good. One of the most distressing aspects of the coalition government’s austerity drive in recent years has been the cuts to, and widespread closures of, library services; a trend which feeds into a wider debate about the sustainability of public libraries in the midst of political antipathy towards the very notion of a taxpayer-funded public good.”

“It is the conceptual centrality of market values which predominates political discourse even in the case of libraries. Areas of the public sector which are proving profitable tend to be marketised or privatised. Areas of the public sector which are not are seen as taxpayer-funded, decadent indulgences and are thus put under pressure to make severe cutbacks.”


  • Costs of and benefits resulting from public library e-government services – Journalist Resource (USA). “Public libraries not only represent a certain vision of culture and community, but they also are increasingly becoming a fundamental part of the mechanics of democracy. Many have taken on what are called “e-gov” services: Librarians and staff helping citizens navigate government websites, filling out forms and facilitating literacy with the entire “dot-gov” bureaucracy.”
  • Getting down to business – Public Libraries Online (USA). “So, what exactly is a Library Business Liaison? The short answer is that the Business Liaison collaborates with local businesses and job seekers alike to assist them in their business needs.”
  • Last chapter for Abu Dhabi’s first library – The National (Abu Dhabi). “The decision to close it is a practical one. When the library opened, Abu Dhabi  lacked even a single bookshop. In an age of Amazon and Kindles, few now borrow  books, and with less than a handful of volunteers to keep the shelves stacked,  it is time to close for the last time.”
  • Mystery in Tokyo as hundreds of copies of Anne Frank’s Diary are defaced across public libraries – Mail (Japan). “More than 250 copies of Anne Frank’s ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ have been vandalised at public libraries across Tokyo”
  • Public libraries are more popular than ever in this information age – Tribune (USA). Fond tales of growing up in libraries … and how they’ve changed.  [Interesting to note that Friends groups in US libraries put on some fantastic library booksales – Ed.]

Local UK news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Philosophy Cafe success – Inverurie Herald. “The cafe is currently held in libraries across Ellon, Oldmeldrum, Inverurie and Kintore with it proving particularly popular at the Inverurie venue with audiences ranging from 25–56. The cafes have received very positive feedback to date, indicating that many people attending have welcomed the chance to meet with others, engage with an academic in their home setting and make new friends.”
  • Dorset – New Chapter for Dorchester Library and learning Centre – Dorset Newsroom (Council webpage). “England’s best-selling crime-fiction author, Minette Walters, marked the latest chapter for Dorchester Library and Learning Centre when she declared the facility officially opened yesterday (Thursday 20 February).” … “Mr Wilson told the audience that since the facility in South Walks opened in July last year, more than 2,000 new library members had signed up, and it had become one of the busiest libraries in Dorset.  With a 50 per cent increase in space on the old Colliton Park site, it now meets the national guidelines on public library floorspace based on population.”
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Library plans go out to public again – Daily Record. “major consultation exercise over the second phase of changes to the library service is set to get the go ahead. It comes on the back of “lessons learned” from the first phase of integrating libraries, registration and customer services.”
  • Hampshire – Save Kingsclere library campaign gathers speed – Newbury Today. “Mrs Bates said: “We want to keep the library open for the children’s sakes. They like pop-up books and the tactile nature of these, everything else is on a screen these days.” She said that the nearest other libraries were seven miles in any direction.”
  • Highlands – Fears service point closures would target the vulnerable – West Highland Free Press. “In a move which has shocked staff and opposition politicians,  the local authority wants to shut 23 of its 35 service point facilities — among them the offices at Kyle of Lochalsh, Broadford, Lochcarron and Gairloch” … “At Broadford and Kyle the service points also include libraries — access for which could now be moved to what the council term a “facilitated self service” arrangement.”
  • Lewisham – Usage statistics – Lewisham Council. Visits up 3.8%, issues up 6%.
  • Lincolnshire – Another council faces judicial review over changes to library provision – Local Government Lawyer.  Summarises the situations and arguments so far.
  • Manchester – Central Library set to become a licensed wedding venue – Manchester Evening News. “Bosses of the city’s revamped Central Library have applied for a licence to hold weddings and civil ceremonies on the site after being approached by dozens of lovebirds who first met there.”
  • Sheffield – Approves major library cuts – BookSeller. Reports on the cuts in Sheffield and the legal issues in Lincolnshire.
  • Sheffield – Letters: Will future of libraries be scrutinised by panel? – Star. “How can Coun McDonald and the committee members say they have scrutinised the report when we cannot get answers to questions raised about information within the report? So I am asking again: considering the political affiliation of some members on this panel can we really expect that the proposals will be fully scrutinised?”
  • Sheffield – Library cuts are ‘a real kick in the teeth’ – Sheffield Telegraph. “The Deputy Prime Minister has described Sheffield’s library cuts as a ‘kick in the teeth’. Nick Clegg’s comments come after a decision to press ahead with controversial proposals which will reduce the number of council-run libraries from 28 to 12. Around 75 members of staff are also set to be axed after Sheffield Council’s cabinet approved the plans.”

“The vote is a real kick in the teeth for the many thousands who signed petitions against the plan to close local libraries. But what makes things even worse is that many people feel minds were made up in the town hall long before any consultation began. I have been hugely impressed to see dozens of people rally around their local library and get involved with campaign groups, particularly in the west of the city where closures have been disproportionately targeted.” Nick Clegg

  • Staffordshire – Project reaches out to young Wilnecote library users to shape service Tamworth Herald. “During the fortnight beginning Monday, February 17 Staffordshire County  Council is inviting young library users to take part in a national survey. County councillor Mike Lawrence, cabinet member for children, community and  localism, said: “This survey is an ideal opportunity for the county’s youngsters  to tell us exactly what they think about their local library.”
  • Wakefield – Town’s library to close for revamp – Pontefract and Castleford Express. “Featherstone Library and Community Centre will close for six weeks while refurbishment works take place … The revamp will include new central heating, shelving and furniture”