November 12, 2012
Emptying the book shelves has killed off the library service
Fourteen years ago it was as plain as daylight that by insisting that 'libraries are not just about books' that the people who manage the library service and spend the money budgeted for it, were in the process of destroying it
Constant bleating that 'books are dusty and old fashioned' - which was never true; and that libraries are about 'learning' - by which they mean that time and money needed to be allocated to pretending that library staff are teachers - which they aren't- have drained the book budgets of the library service to the point of wretched inadequacy for its purpose
The mistake was simply that they failed to observe that three quarters of the people who use public libraries do so in order to have access to books of all kinds. So by simple arithmetic and common sense, by reducing the funds and emphasis on books, they were reducing their potential audience. Without an audience, the bean counters can very easily question their expense and hocus- pocus - the libraries become 'unaffordable' and will close
It hasn't been politicians, particularly, who have said these things, but those people in the senior library professsion who have risen to the positions which mean they no longer have to work behind the library counter. It hasn't been the ordinary library staff who have said these things. This approach originates from library conferences and universities that offer degrees in inofrmation science and librarianship. These are the people who wanted libraries to 'not just about books' and they wanted central libraries to glorify the role of a professional librarian
Until we start once more to realise how important printed books on library shelves are we can forget the idea of campaigning to save the library service.
And we cannot plead the role of libraries in the literacy of the nation, if we don't put books to read in them .
Posted by Perkins at November 12, 2012 2:25 PM
Re the third last paragraph (It hasn't been ... professional librarian), these were the attitudes which turned me against librarianship. I don't think it's any use trying to make a reasoned argument about it. These guys talked tripe for the last twenty years (I read it!) and produced nothing but a football field's worth of papery tripe. They should be buried underneath it, and I hold them in utter contempt.
Posted by: James Christie at November 12, 2012 5:49 PM
I'm confused. Are you railing against the 'libraries are not just about books' mantra? Or are you saying that libraries SHOULD just be about books?
Posted by: Fido at November 16, 2012 9:02 AM
You really are stupid Tim; you generalize too much; your commercial interests leave you open to suspicion, and your obvious lack of ANY experience actually working in, or managing in any way, public libraries ( or a library of any type) lowers your profile.
You championed Hillingdon libraries - millions have been wasted on furniture and refurbishments there - at the expense of BOOKS - with little outcome, indeed, the service (which you once described as 'well managed') - mind you, how would you know a well managed service from a badly managed one, with no experience whatsoever?) is not as good as when you first landed there...comment from a user!!!
Posted by: Richard Mitchell at November 16, 2012 10:55 PM
Just catching up here. I was very depressed by a visit to the library yesterday, this is what I wrote: http://isobelandcat.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/let-our-libraries-live/
Btw do you have a twitter account?
Posted by: Isobel at February 24, 2013 8:43 AM
Isobel's (Southwark) library service seems to have caught the sans books contagion from the borough next door.
Oh for a true LIBRARY service which packs its libraries with shelves and its shelves with books!
Posted by: No Brain at February 26, 2013 9:41 PM