October 29, 2006
American libraries and English libraries
I had an interesting correspondence with a Master's degree student in librarianship at an English University, yesterday. I won't identify him, but he said this
"in many ways I feel the UK in general (and government in particular) there's just a malaise towards libraries. They are frowned upon as frumpy and outdated. I mean, in the USA libraries are regarded as something for all people to go there (rich and poor) to learn. Here, there too often seen as a preserve of middle aged,middle class persons (or is that staff.....lol). I do think the library needs to look at its image. I mean, I would regard libraries being in the same state as Foyles was, for far too many years."
I asked if, on his course, they discuss the management problems and skills that are needed to get out of a mess like that. I won't say his answer,because it might reveal which course he is doing, but the answer is no. For certain Foyles didn't decide that the way forward was to market themselves "not as providers of books, but of knowledge" and they don't keep telling everyone they are no longer just about books.
Why don't librarianship training courses deal with library management and discuss problems of this kind ? (as the Select committee asked them to do last year)
Posted by Perkins at October 29, 2006 8:58 AM
in australia management issues like this are studied at the bachelor degree level...thats why this whole thing is so fascinating to me. I have heard librarians in general here talk about the need for better management skills in the profession. I wonder is there any doctoral research going on about this situation?
Posted by: fran at October 29, 2006 12:32 PM
I met a senior member of CILIP who conducts training courses about social inclusion and asked if he talks about marketing techniques. He replied that he regarded "marketing" in public libraries as "commercial - verging on sinful". It's no wonder public libraries have lost touch with their readers and don't know how to present themselves in a successful way. Marketing methods offer a perfectly honourable and analytic approach to doing one's job better.
Posted by: Tim at October 30, 2006 10:03 AM