August 7, 2013
A message to CILIP management -- from a librarian - give me my money back
Yesterday James Christie, who is a published author and an Asperger's' sufferer, who comments regularly on this blog asked Annie Mauger if she would meet him to discuss, among other things, CILIP's policy on local library closures
She declined very quickly - and Perkins view is that as CEO of a large national charity she should have taken a different course, especially given James' background and circumstance. Kindness and conciliation are virtues to be sought. They were notably absent from her response, in my view
There was much that could have been gained from a meeting of the two - and still could be - and it should be reasonably public
James has posted here again this morning - he often writes in strong language - but he is a wonderful writer ....
I've been getting digests of library-related news for some time now and I don't think I have noticed any strong, bold statements by CILIP regarding the current closures and the increase in volunteers.
In Post-Lib 66, Frances Hendrix stated that "CILIP ... has changed, slimmed and become, well I am not really quite sure what it has become. It is supposedly for all librarians and libraries, but its reach, effect and influence seems to have waned."
"The real issue facing the profession is whether the professional bodies, SCL and CILIP, are actually trying to get across the message that librarians provide real value..."
And, most simply and devastatingly:
"Perhaps as a profession we need to challenge our professional bodies to do a lot more and a much better job at standing up for librarians and library assistants. You don't change national and local government policies by 'quiet diplomacy' or by having very infrequent meetings with a junior minister!"
I was a member of CILIP for nearly twenty years and nearly died from reading all the overwritten drivel spewed up in the LA Record and Update. I never got the sense of any vigorous powerful leadership doing anything very much and, again, when I actually faced a CILIP focus group in Newcastle-upon-Tyne three years ago, came halfway and offered to speak on behalf of CILIP, they couldn't even be bothered to respond.
No, I do not think you're doing your job, Annie, and I have no respect for CILIP, especially as you've now made it clear you personally won't even sit in front of me and answer me. The CILIP rebrand is the worst kind of wasteful spin, designed only to place a sticking plaster over the massive problems what's left of your "profession" faces, and it will do nothing, nothing at all.
Just like CILIP, really.
I could say quite a lot more, but it would not be nice.
A few years ago, I said I actually felt ashamed to be a librarian, and I was reminded of that last night. Worse, I am ashamed that I ever gave one red cent to CILIP. You weren't worth it and I'd like a refund, I have no respect for you and do not think you are being of any real help to your membership. The best thing that membership could do is simply stop paying their dues.
God, I'm glad I did.
Posted by Perkins at August 7, 2013 9:48 AM
Wow, what an ego! You demand a personal meeting with the CEO, and because you do not get one, have an online rant?
I don't agree with a lot of CILIPs recent activities, or the CEO being e.g. happy to push others in CILIP either over the parapet or under a bus to save what's left of her own reputation and "career". But equally, I don't expect her to drop everything and come running to everyone who has a gripe with the organisation.
Apart from the fact that would be an awful lot of meetings, that's not how organisations work. You can always come to the AGM in Birmingham in a few weeks if you want to meet her or others from CILIP. Or one of the other events the CEO or other senior members of CILIP attend.
But this "you've now made it clear you personally won't even sit in front of me and answer me" is completely impractical and ridiculous. It's like me saying that because David Cameron won't personally visit me and listen to my gripes, he is automatically evil. (Whether he is or not anyway is beside the point).
Grow up and get a sense of your own proportion in the world, James. Like Annie, I can't take you or this post seriously (despite probably agreeing with many of your CILIP points).
Posted by: Andy Smith at August 7, 2013 8:06 PM
Not so -- I have been CEO of several companies -with a busy schedule and working with lots of people. Actually it is relatively rare that someone asks to have a personal meeting, but when they do, there is nothing impractical about it - you should at least try and find a way . And if you can't find a way to meet you should at least write a polite and generous letter in reply . There is no excuse for bluntness in that circumstance - whatsoever
James ego is the same as anyone else's - yours or mine - we are all equal - in fact in many ways he is more equal than either of us
Rank is not an excuse
Posted by: perkins at August 7, 2013 8:40 PM
It's quite simple, Andy. Mrs Mauger made it clear she would not have a conversation with me. I do not consider her evil, and I would have done the travelling. Members of FOGL were able to meet with Ed Vaizey, and you state you probably agree with many of my CILIP points but dislike the fact that I am actually willing to sit in front of her and ask her about them.
Nothing is going to change until people stand up and complain. Nothing may even change then, and I would very clearly tell you that I spent years labouring away with an undiagnosed (and quite massive) learning disability desperately trying to satisfy a "profession" which seemed determined to make everything impossibly convoluted and having my self-esteem comprehensively destroyed in the process. It was only after I ended up cleaning toilets at the age of forty that I got so sick of CILIP and librarianship's nonsense that I decided to speak up, knowing I was probably throwing away whatever miniscule career chances I had left, but feeling that at least I'd give myself some peace of mind. I had absolutely no idea at the time that the incredible events yet to happen would take place; and in case you can't or don't want to get your head round it, how many egotists would be willing to clean toilets, empty bins and stack shelves? I did it for ten months, I rather enjoyed it in some ways, and at least I didn't have to listen to one word of library jargon...
Posted by: James Christie at August 7, 2013 10:49 PM
Although I am currently CILIP Vice President, I'm not responding to this in an official capacity but as a school librarian.
We have a large number of students with Asperger's syndrome in my school who are at many different points on the spectrum and I am used to working closely with these students. I see them not only in lessons but many of them use the library regularly at break times, it is a place where they feel safe, comfortable and accepted. And I also have several library helpers who have Asperger's.
These students are challenging. They do take things literally (if they want my attention and I am busy, I cannot say to them, wait a couple of minutes because that is exactly what they will do before they carry on with their question), they do not have the same social skills as others and sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time but they are also intelligent, articulate and passionate about their interests, and are a delight to work with.
Your comments imply that we should feel sorry for James because he has Asperger's. I think this is a bit condescending. He has a condition that gives him a unique view of the world. Sadly this was undiagnosed for several years but I'm not quite sure how CILIP can be blamed for that ... surely that fault lies with the education system, the schools he went to and the teachers that taught him.
James is right though when he says that nothing is going to change unless people stand up ... but just complaining isn't going to change anything either. You have to be proactive. I'm not sure how much you know about school libraries but they are not a statutory requirement. Many schools do not have a library; the library and professional librarian have been replaced by ebook readers and computers because "everything can be found on the internet." Forget the "safe haven" aspect ... the students that use and need the library for those purposes (and this includes those with SEN and EAL needs as well as the Asperger's students) are left to cope amongst the general school population.
I am exceedingly lucky as I work in a school that values the services I provide and supports the library. This could change overnight with a new Head and there would be nothing I could do about it. The only way to change this situation is to get school libraries and librarians recognised. We won't do this by complaining but by advocacy and promotion. And the more cohesive a group we are then the more impact we will have. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, it isn't ... especially as money is involved, the value of libraries is hard to quantify, and the people that make the decisions tend to only think in terms of monetary value.
Teachers may complain about each other in the staff room, with one department thinking their subject is more important than another. But when something threatens their profession, they act together as a group and support each other. This is what we should be doing as librarians and information professionals.
Posted by: Barbara Band at August 8, 2013 10:01 AM
We are very pleased to hear from you in whatever capacity you wish to write
- I do not think anyone should feel sorry for James: I think they should listen to him . In my view he talks more sense than all the presidential bodies, committees, trustees, directors and general soup makers in CILIP all combined . That' s why they should listen to him. I was appalled at the letter that was written to him - absolutely appalled and I think the CEO should answer for it. But he can say that for himself, perfectly well I just happen to have been sent a copy
- No one has done more to suggest the way that library services could improve than I do : I have spent fifteen years doing that, often very successfully.
- I am perfectly aware of the situation in school libraries , I work with them all the time
- James complaint and mine, about CILIP, is that you spend your time 'acting as a group and supporting each other' instead of taking the actions that you could take to improve libraries
And I am sure we all wish you well in CILIP and hope you change things instead of defending them
Posted by: perkins at August 8, 2013 10:38 AM
Positive comment from Barbara; really unpleasant and condescending reply from Perkins. Who I have to ask:
1. If you have been "often very successfully", why are libraries in the state they are?
2. And if you have "done more" than anyone else - why don't you stand for a position in CILIP, obviously be swept to power due to your 'superior to everyone' experience, and change things?
Or is it just easier and lazier to snipe from the sidelines without doing anything but promote yourself and your own (cough) 'products'?
Posted by: Andy Smith at August 8, 2013 11:27 AM
I was just thinking that James would be a superb life president of SYRUP and I would happily be his side-kick
But neither of us is a member - sadly - and we don't think the fee is worth paying
~Wouldn't it be better if, instead of posturing with indignation someone at CILIP just said 'Sorry, we should not have written that letter' ?
Posted by: perkins at August 8, 2013 11:36 AM
As we have seen neither the original request, nor the fabled and alleged letter from the CEO of CILIP, we only have your "I am always right and everyone else is always wrong" opinion to go on.
Which, in the greater scheme of things, isn't worth much, is it Timothy?
I think we're done here unless you can, just for once, bring something of substance to the table.
Not holding my breath,
Posted by: Andy Smith at August 8, 2013 11:54 AM
Isn't it a little misleading, Tim, to state that Annie Mauger "declined very quickly" to contact James? Not reported here is that she had, out of the blue, received a pretty startling message from him.
I was copied into the unreported message(s), as you know. James (who is honest to a fault) may be aware with hindsight that his first missive was enough to frighten the horses - even though he evidently did not mean it to.
I find it disturbing that you, Tim seem to be giving, here, a slightly different version of what happened. I expect to be castigated by you for saying so, of course!
Posted by: Shirley Burnham at August 8, 2013 1:57 PM
Thanks - well it took about an hour - if that's what you mean.
You have already told me off for this - and we disagree . I think James has been provoked because, over a long time, he has made a coherent case of questioning the ability of CILIP to address the matters it faces
His frustration - like mine- I guess - comes from our shared intention of trying to improve libraries and save them
There is a kind of aristocracy in CILIP which believes that 'defence and support of the members' is more important than the service they give to the public
We don't think that is right
So often saving libraries is taken to mean saving the library profession - and I agree with James - that is humbug and a distortion
You like to blame Ed Vaizey for everything and believe that we should only target our criticism at him.
We don't agree with you - we believe that a lot of the blame for the disintegration of the library service actually lies with the profession as well
And often on this blog I have made a point of highlighting the behaviour of people in senior and well paid positions who hide behind some kind of charitable or public service smoke screen, when I think they are not doing what their role and position requires that they should. That is what I am doing here
James has often invited CILIP to talk to him - frequently on this blog. His language is often strong to ferocious - but he is always right. In the fifteenth century everyone wrote like that, because printing hadn't exposed their words to a wider world. It's a good way of expressing yourself
I am honoured to be the chat show host between them.
And it is simply the case he makes that is so worthwhile listening to
But if my purpose, deviously, was to get people to ask what on earth was written in that letter - then you are helping me nicely . It was not, in my view, an appropriate letter from the head of a national charity to anyone - however they had expressed themselves ... that's my point
Posted by: perkins at August 8, 2013 2:14 PM
Tim, you seem highly entertained, gleeful even, to have this opportunity to go after your bête noire. It's true that there are issues that are not addressed by CILIP - But you won't get them sorted out by using the Royal We. James is not an active library campaigner as far as I'm aware. He, like others, is someone who generally cares about libraries, but his personal angst is caused by how he was treated when employed.
With regard to Ed Vaizey: it is his Department that has *statutory responsibility* for Public Libraries - not CILIP. As a result, if he were doing his job or showed the least interest in it, he would have taken CILIP or the SCL to task for the failings you enumerate; are you aware that he or the Secretary of State have ever done so? Please list all the wonderful things these heroes have done in office to justify your defence of them watching the Service go down the pan in Lincolnshire, for example.
On this other matter: If you publish "that letter", then I will not hesitate to publish extracts from the message/blog that startled Annie Mauger into rejecting James's request to meet. That is something that (for James's sake, NOT yours) I should certainly prefer not to do.
Posted by: Shirley Burnham at August 8, 2013 3:14 PM
Here's the simple answer:
I am willing to go to the CILIP AGM in Birmingham, and I will stand in front of you all, and say how I feel about CILIP and librarianship and so on, and how it led from reasonable hopes of some sort of job to this.
I've checked my diary. I'm free September 21st. Now it's up to you.
You may be surprised by what you actually hear, if you take me up on my offer.
The only thing I will not do, under any circumstances, is take out CILIP membership again.
So the ball is now back in your court, CILIP, and it is up to you to send an invitation.
I'll look forward to hearing from you.
Posted by: James Christie at August 8, 2013 5:31 PM
Yet again, with the ego, James.
Just in case you don't realise:
1. CILIP aren't scouring blogs and their comments looking for people demanding an invite. Why should they?
2. It's up to YOU to follow the protocols to attend. Here's all the details of the event:
Looks like you can attend, as an observer, even if you aren't a member.
3. There are a thousand - no, thousands - of librarians out there with a story to tell. I have seen zero evidence as to why everyone should congregate to hear you speak as to all the others, what makes you so special and more worthy of speaking at the CILIP AGM than anyone else.
4. Being Timothy's pal / lapdog does not make you special. The AGM is once a year. Why should a part of it be taken up by listening to your story in particular? Make the case for this.
5. To speak at the AGM, you need to join CILIP. That seems fair. Why should a non-member take up the time of the meeting, pushing out the opportunities for paying members to have a platform?
On an unambiguous point. If you make threatening or sinister communications, whether intended or not, then you risk police intervention and possible arrest. If you do not understand this then - and I do mean this very seriously, for YOUR sake - you need to have someone unbiased explain it to you in terms you do understand. It doesn't help anyone at all, but most especially you, if that happened.
Posted by: Andy Smith at August 9, 2013 11:55 AM
Are you writing these comments on behalf of CILIP ?
Posted by: perkins at August 9, 2013 12:28 PM
Of course Andy isn't commenting on behalf of CILIP. Read what he said. They have better things to do than scour the Internet contributing to random blogs, yours or mine.
James has no more right to speak at the AGM than any other non-member. If I understand his contributions here aright, he did not have a happy time in the profession, which I'm sure we all regret. He now has a new career as an author in which I wish him every success. Perhaps he should concentrate on it.
Posted by: Tom Roper at August 9, 2013 12:50 PM
The ball is in your court.
Posted by: James Christie at August 9, 2013 4:58 PM
James. Because of your comments online, and your inappropriate - and now widely circulated - message to the CEO of CILIP, you are far, far more likely to have a restraining order served on you than to be invited to speak at CILIP. Even people who dislike CILIP or it's CEO have found your message unacceptable. You have made yourself completely unemployable as a librarian so, like Mr Roper, I wish you well in your writing career. You will need it (the new career).
And you, Tim. Stirring, and manipulating a person with issues to try and further your own ridiculous vendetta. You really should be ashamed of yourself but it's obvious that, because of your own mental deficiencies, you won't be. Karma is that the vast majority of the UK library sector will have nothing to do with you and your toxic brand, no matter how much you hype yourself. To what lows have the once mighty now fallen...
Posted by: Andy Smith at August 10, 2013 5:51 AM
Tell it not in Gath,
publish it not in the streets of As'kelon;
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
how are the mighty fallen!
Ye mountains of Gilbo'a,
let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings:
for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away
From the blood of the slain,
from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives,and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions
These are the words of David - (who slew Goliath with a well aimed stone)
Posted by: perkins at August 10, 2013 9:40 AM
Advertisement: for anyone who gets this far (well done!)
James Christie's book is called "Dear Miss Landau"
And mine is called "Aldeburgh -a song of the sea"
You might not find them in a public library because of our argumentative nature - but they are on Amazon
Posted by: perkins at August 10, 2013 10:02 AM
Andy, you really are most unpleasant. I was wondering how things had come to this and rereading Frances' article. There is no library profession to speak of. I now think that libraries are worth saving but librarians might as well be allowed to die out, and that volunteers and retired people will provide greater passion, clarity and probably better customer service than you do.
I was not unsurprised to read these quotes from Frances' article again, and it must be firmly stressed these are her views:
"The world of the public authorities appears to be a sort of gulag where one must be very careful not to air ones views or be damned forever and sent to the very outer reaches of the county."
"And let's stop thinking that because librarians are lovely and highly committed people that MPs think the leadership of our professional bodies are effective advocates. They are obviously not!
The reality is that campaigners, many authors and some other trade bodies and several journalists think we should and must do more to promote the value of libraries and librarians. One librarian wrote anonymously recently about 'bloody library campaigners'. Well we should be grateful for the superb work of these bloody campaigners across the country fighting for their community libraries, fund raising to support their Judicial Reviews and raising the issues in the public arena."
Strong words, and I agree with them.
Tim isn't manipulating anybody. Certainly not me, and over the last several years the public library service has grossly let me down every time I needed help (the last debacle, two years ago, was so grossly amateurish you wouldn't believe it). I'd rather be banished to the ends of the country than have to pretend to respect you, and I am deeply angered that a once-respectable trade has degenerated into this mess.
I was pretty much thinking of moving on anyway, but even I couldn't fail to notice the incredible uselessness of this rebranding exercise.
And if you hadn't gone and told me about the AGM, I'd never even have thought of it.
Oh and by the way, the ball's still in your (CILIP's) court.
Posted by: James Christie at August 10, 2013 7:56 PM
1) I don't work for CILIP.
2) The bottom line is, probably nobody cares whose "court" you delusionally think your "ball" is in. You are stuck in your own little un-reality bubble with regard to communicating, and choose to ignore everything everyone except Timothy says. That is entirely your problem, and not the problem of CILIP, their CEO, me, or anyone else.
3) If you want to keep on using Timothy's blog as some kind of anger management outlet or release, then that is of course, your choice. Same as it is mine to ignore you and this blog, and do more productive and useful library-related things. This, and you, are a complete waste of time, so I'm done here.
Have a good life with your "ball" and Timothy,
Posted by: Andy Smith at August 11, 2013 10:50 AM
Are you a librarian or an information officer of some kind? and a member of CILIP?
Posted by: perkins at August 11, 2013 11:18 AM
What are you planning to do, Tim - set the UKBA on him? Are you a Policeman? The Smith chap is responding to James as he would to anyone. Yes, he's abrupt, clearly angry - but he's not patronising James as you accuse others of doing or treating him as a whimp (as you have accused me of doing via email), is he? I expect you'll try to wring more advantage out of this blog and continue to claim the moral high ground, but I do think it ill-becomes you. All the points, valid and otherwise have been made.
Posted by: Shirley Burnham at August 11, 2013 5:46 PM
Thank you . I was thinking this evening that if someone were to write the story of the collapse of the English public library service - which could be a kind of metaphor- they would do worse than to pick some of the correspondents on this blog around whom to build the story
Of course, you would play an important part - as you have .
And I think it noticeable how quick to anger the library 'professionals' have always been - as you point out this evening
But I do think and hope that James will play an especially important part.
He has articulated more clearly and beautifully than anyone how the decline affects individuals. I confess I love the way he tells the story and I would - as they say -defend his right to say it in the way that he does
Nothing evokes the situation more clearly to me than for an autistic person who is a known Aspergers' sufferer to have said about them "You are stuck in your own unreality bubble with regard to communicating" - with- as you say - anger and not a little venom
And this comes from someone who claims to be an 'information professional' . Preserve me, what can that mean?
Posted by: perkins at August 11, 2013 8:07 PM
That's enough on this subject. Thanks everybody.
As Shirley says - all the points have been made
Posted by: perkins at August 12, 2013 7:40 AM