July 16, 2006
Intiatives and ways forward
There are 3 ways that we can get out of the crisis that I described under the heading of "efficiency, efficiency, efficiency".
The first is for individual councils to ask for help. Like going to the doctor, when they do this they have to be prepared to take the medicine prescribed. I believe that where there is a need for some seed-corn funding, there are suppliers of various kinds who would, on the basis of a firm and tangible plan for improvement which it is in the supplier's interest to pursue and a high level of management commitment, be persuaded to invest.
The second is if the Audit Commission became so dissatisfied with the value for money being given to the public that it initiated a special urgent project to restore the library service. I would like to see this
The third is if a body replaced the current MLA and undertook a service similar to that which I am suggesting in the first case here. The Minister (or a new Minister) could initiate this. He or she could provide access to seed corn funds and perhaps even some lottery money. That would speed things up. It would also bring about the benefits of support that an efficient and useful central library agency should be providing now.
I would like to see all these things happen and also to see the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties call for and support the same actions. The library service, run by local councils, is their reponsibility as well, although not in quite the same way as the Government's for whom the Minister has a statutory responsibility which the other party central offices cannot have.
Librarians, not only the formal representative bodies, but individuals within the profession and in the library service, could usefully call for, commit to and support these initiatives. The public has a great deal to lose if they are not carried but so, also, do people who work in libraries.
None of these things is happening at the moment. All of them are urgent and, as I have often said, need to be in flow before September this year, when the next round of budgets wil be in progress.
Members of the public should call upon their councils to ask for outside help. I would do my best to act as a facilitator for the first of these methods as well as continuing to call for the other two, which I have done for a long time.
If we do not do these things, now- within only a few years there will be no public library service. I think others are beginning to see this is not just an idle threat made deliberately to frighten- it is actually true and we can already see how the end will come about.
Posted by Perkins at July 16, 2006 12:40 PM
And do you know, I think the end WILL come and the reason is because those in power, both in government and libraries, have allowed libraries to wither on the vine until they are at a state where no one will miss them very much.
I cannot see much hope UNLESS.. the librarians wake up and realise that they will all lose their jobs. The answer will be as selfish as that,
Posted by: SUSAN HILL at July 16, 2006 10:26 PM