August 3, 2013
There are still taxpayers paying for the library profession - that needs to be stopped
We are all watching the comic death throes of the library profession
The organisation ought to be put out of its misery but from somewhere it is still obtaining funds
Some of those funds come when publicly funded bodies -like local councils - pay the membership fees for belonging to a professional association . This is the kind of payment that rides forward in a budget from year to year without the scrutiny it needs. An accountant will assume that a professional body is ok (because they probably belong to one themselves and get their own membership paid for )
But CILIP - or LIPSUK or SYRUP or whatever they will become is not OK
And most certainly no public money should be used to pay for it
Councillors please take note
Posted by Perkins at August 3, 2013 10:44 AM
There are a host of other things that 'public money' pays for that are, for most, of much more concern than the gripe you express here, Tim. Do any of them preoccupy you, or is this the *only* issue on which you will ever express a view?
Posted by: Shirley Burnham at August 3, 2013 12:31 PM
You've made this assertion before, Tim, but never, as I recall, been able to cite any evidence. I've worked in a wide range of libraries, in both public and private sectors, and never has any employer paid my membership of CILIP, or the LA and IIS before it. One could make a convincing case that they should, particularly when chartership is a condition of employment, but that's another matter.
Some organisations do have institutional membership. That's different. So, where is your evidence?
Posted by: Tom Roper at August 3, 2013 2:43 PM
What do you mean - the only issue? This blog is a multi-coloured kaleidoscope with issues of all kinds
But it is true I have made a feature of my dislike of SYRUP as a body. Ever since I first watched them in action at the LIS in 1998, I have believed that they are a danger to public libraries - and that is what I have maintained ever since
Tom - you are right - I have made this assertion before and I have never cited the councils in which I have seen it to be the case. Nor shall I name them.... you might not choose to believe me but I still believe that about 30% of councils do this - that would be about right on the basis of what I have seen
But would you agree with me that if it is true, it is wrong for tax payers' money to be used in this way ?
Posted by: perkins at August 3, 2013 4:03 PM
I am an unemployed librarian and can't even afford to koin CILIP. Librarians, however low-paid have ALWAYS paid their own fees whether the money is for membership of professional bodies or for courses. Is this because I am Scottish? I don't know. But, please STOP this demonising at a time when the poorest and lowest paid (if indeed, in employment) are suffering because of what's happening to libraries. This is utterly unacceptable...
Posted by: Marie Macfarlane at August 3, 2013 9:20 PM
You've put your finger on the exact point of difference between us, Tim, and the reason you don't understand professions and professionalism. If I were to recommend a therapy or procedure to the clinical teams I work with on the basis of a personal belief, without citing any evidence, saying, 'that would be about right on the basis of what I have seen', I would be quite properly drummed out of the profession. But you think it's acceptable. Either cite your evidence or withdraw.
Posted by: Tom Roper at August 4, 2013 8:45 AM
There are many points of difference between us - it would take the fingers of both hands to point them out
And this is certainly one of them
Posted by: perkins at August 4, 2013 10:52 AM
My endless and persistent criticism of CILIP is that - posing as the professional body for librarians - politicians and council managers ought to be able to turn to CILIP and say ' how can we provide the best service in times when our budgets are under severe pressure'
There are a hundred sensible answers that CILIP could give to that question - for example we persist in running bibliographic, stock selection and distribution services in 200 councils in the UK - when nearly all the money spent on that is a waste. And yet CILIP does not and has never addressed the issues which it ought to do
Instead it acts as a membership body whose only interest is the proclamation of the value of its own members -- and I maintain that that posture is irresponsible and wrong
Of all the bodies that could have provided a strategy for the development of library service in times of technical change and financial pressure - it is CILIP
They have no business criticising councils or politicians until they put their own house in order - in the plain light of public scrutiny
And what are they doing - look around you - if you want evidence as Tom does - look at the words of Phil Bradley, John Dolan and Annie Mauger
Should anyone feel sorry for professional librarians - no .
If you want to see how a professional library body should operate - look at the ALA
And does it matter - Yes it really does - because the public library service is being taken to pieces while these people continue to puff about the professionalism of what they do
Posted by: perkins at August 4, 2013 11:06 AM
Totally agree that the best thing that CILIP could do would be to take a close look at the ALA and get themselves involved in advocacy and political lobbying rather than just issuing statements that simply get ignored by those in power. Of all the times CILIP should be seen to be proactive and passionate, surely it is now when libraries are in crisis?!
Posted by: Karly at August 4, 2013 11:29 AM
Thank you - for the past two years I have been working with one of the ALA committees on ebook development and with one of the former presidents.
They are helpful, supportive, informed and intelligent. They understand the importance of vision. The contrast between their approach and that of CILIP could not be greater
It isn't just about advocacy - it is also about making sure that they have authority in what they say, because they embody responsibility and an understanding of their role both in society and in the political environment of the library service
They are a pleasure to work with and it is an honour to be treated with respect by them. It's hard to imagine that happening in the UK
Posted by: perkins at August 4, 2013 1:12 PM
I was a "professional" librarian for about fifteen years, read the LA Record and Update, paid my fees, tried to get a job and do the right thing. I have talked to a former CILIP president, tried to come halfway with them at one time, stuck my head over the parapet and said how I felt...
And I wasted my time.
I came on tonight to express how I felt about this stupid, useless CILIP name change (I think it's stupid and useless, by the way), and ran into this debate.
CILIP (formerly the LA) might as well vanish because, I would certainly say, it certainly is bloody useless. Librarians and library workers have been suffering for decades, and nothing has improved. I was thoroughly demonized in my time, and unlike the vast majority of the library profession, I fought back. The Darwinian facts of life may be harsh but they're clear. It is no use saying this is unacceptable. Either stand up for yourselves or become extinct. You might become extinct anyway, but at least you'd get some respect if you went down fighting.
Any last points? Well, I actually went on paying my CILIP dues up until a couple of years ago, then one bright Christmas morning in came the usual demand for money, and I just thought "I don't want to pay this lot any more." I didn't refuse in a blinding fit of fury, in fact I was a bit sad about losing a few nice letters at the end of my name, but I felt a lot cleaner afterwards, and I am so relieved I no longer have to read Update...
By the way, it's nothing to do with being Scottish. I am Scottish. CILIP is ineffective on an equal opportunities basis. Can I emigrate and join the ALA, Perkins? For it is peculiarly souring to stay here, knowing that despite all I have done and tried to do, there is no place, no job, no future and no hope.
I wasted my time.
Posted by: James Christie at August 5, 2013 12:20 AM
Not wasted your time - you have written one (and I suspect probably more than one) wonderful book and that it is a value to all of us .. we like you !
Posted by: perkins at August 5, 2013 9:23 AM
"Tom - you are right - I have made this assertion before and I have never cited the councils in which I have seen it to be the case. Nor shall I name them.... you might not choose to believe me but I still believe that about 30% of councils do this - that would be about right on the basis of what I have seen"
Well, let's submit some FoI's and find out. Presumably you will apologise if you are wrong?
Posted by: Ian at August 5, 2013 11:29 AM
The subject of this Blog is "There are still taxpayers paying for the library profession - that needs to be stopped". Going off on tangents makes it impossible to establish whether that claim has a basis in fact, or not.
Posted by: Shirley Burnham at August 5, 2013 12:08 PM
Thanks, Perkins, much appreciated. I didn't want to flash my credentials about too much, but as I'm now a published author (the real thing who did it the hard way, not via Amazon or vanity publication), it doesn't say much for Scotland that I couldn't even get a part-time job in a public library. In absolute fairness, I don't consider myself to have any natural right to a job, but I got the qualification and Chartership, restored part of Scotland's literary history in my first job (in which I basically taught myself rare book cataloging unsupervised - that story's worth a book in itself...), went on to law librarianship and despite Asperger's syndrome and a massive information-processing deficit, crossed America overland, met a Hollywood star and beat odds of millions to one to be published (thanks again for your great review, by the way!) and sell more copies than J. K. Rowling did when she posed as Richard Galbraith...
Okay, now I'm blowing my own trumpet, but you'd think that someone with my extraordinary track record (sorry, there I go again) might actually be considered worthy of a part-time library assistant's job, but no.
I also met with CILIP representatives at a focus group about three years ago, came halfway with them, said I was willing to talk to them and see if there was some way forward. I asked them to contact me within four weeks, and of course nothing happened...
Pathetic. They didn't even have enough initiative to pick up the phone.
So, just to be clear, I'm pleased to be able to say I haven't wasted my life, but I did waste a fair bit of my time trying to win the approval of CILIP and the public library service. It is a sour and terrible thing to realize what a waste that was, how utterly toothless, feeble, senile and demented the service is, but nevertheless it shouldn't necessarily be this way. It just takes a little initiative.
So let's throw down the gauntlet.
Annie Mauger, I see you're the head honcho at CILIP.
I stress I'm very polite, but I'm opening the door a crack and putting the ball in your court. Show me you've got a little initiative. It's not difficult to find me (try Chaplin Books or LinkedIn or here), but either do something inside the next four weeks or you'll prove to me all over again that you lot haven't got the cojones to do one damn thing except moan about being demonized and continue taking it up the rear end from the Ministry of Culture.
Pick up the phone, Annie. Surely you can manage that.
Posted by: James Christie at August 5, 2013 2:23 PM
Like all good librarians, I decided to investigate your claim:
"...you might not choose to believe me but I still believe that about 30% of councils do this - that would be about right on the basis of what I have seen..."
Preliminary investigations on my part put it at 8% based on a sample of 25 library authorities. How many have you surveyed and how many pay the sub? It's an important claim you make regarding hard pushed tax payers' money being directed to a professional body, particularly in these straightened economic times. If you are serious about you concerns, this should be properly investigated. If not, perhaps stop writing inflammatory blog posts that do nothing in terms of the fight for libraries. It's time to get a little more serious, Tim, rather than score cheap points.
Posted by: Ian at August 5, 2013 2:56 PM
Ian - if I were wrong and no councils paid for membership of CILIP then I would be very pleased indeed- because that is what I wanted to see stopped
But it seems even from your research that I was right - there are some councils who pay for the professional fees
And I would guess that those people are paid for are less likely to tell you than those people who are not
I have no intention of apologising for anything. I don't think tax payers should pay for CILIP - why should they? It is a dreadful body
Posted by: perkins at August 5, 2013 8:25 PM
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: James Christie at August 7, 2013 7:42 AM
Who are these local authorities who pay for Cilip membership? I've never come across any, and this comes up every so often. It is a myth which keeps getting trotted out every so often. The only organisations which I have ever heard of paying for Cilip membership for staff were universities.
Posted by: Andrew at August 8, 2013 12:43 PM