3 thoughts on “Public Libraries and Civil Society

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Public Libraries and Civil Society « Walk You Home -- Topsy.com

  2. Ian Anstice

    That is just scary – that the Chief Exec of the RSA has not considered the matter in any depth before stating positively about it in a speech. Not sure I like this version of the Enlightenment.

    Good counter-arguments by the way 🙂

    Reply
  3. Library Web

    “People want to get involved so that they can improve those services, not take over the running of them”

    “people want more not less help from public agencies in order to give them skills+confidence to b more active citizens”

    Big Society enthusiasts put off by time constraints
    http://www.investortoday.co.uk/News/Story/?storyid=4665&title=Big_Society_enthusiasts_put_off_by_time_constraints&type=news_features

    The above were tweets from @Jo_Bo_Anderson linking to the latter article. All of a sudden we are going from we had paid professionals advising the public (although admittedly some people weren’t happy with the service they were getting), to the public doing it themselves. My concern would be (and this mirrors my experience where funding has become available for community purposes), the biggest thugs in the community will take over the proceedings – But the Cons. do not factor the reality on the ground into their masterplan. To leave one’s confidence with professionals is what is ideally desired, and as pointed out in another article, library staff personal information, something volunteers would not normally do.

    Do volunteers have degrees in Library Science? Libraries have a great deal of potential for the communities they serve, but not without qualified, proactive, creative staff (volunteers may be the latter, but a specialist and professional they are not). A community will miss out on the potential strategic advantage with a library that is volunteer run [afterthoght, unless they hire qualified staff?].

    Little Chalfont’s library success may help book lovers
    http://www.buckinghamshireadvertiser.co.uk/south-buckinghamshire-news/local-buckinghamshire-advertiser-news/2010/11/24/little-chalfont-s-library-success-may-help-book-lovers-82398-27708827/

    The above is a /successful/ volunteer run library. I can’t see how this would compare with professional libraries though, there will be huge quality issues across the libraries as a whole.

    Having said the above I like the title of the following article:

    Council cuts inevitable but ‘redesign’ hopeful
    http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/council_cuts_inevitable_but_redesign_hopeful_1_737838

    Re. the title of the above article, I’d like to see libraries redesign, maybe with the small academic/non-political strategic body I’ve mentioned before with direct links to the public and whose purpose was to advise the public on an ongoing basis as to the value of the public libraries to society. More highly trained and qualified staff on the front line as well (which since libraries are delayering anyway…) in line with a the philosophy of a flatter organisation (which fits better with a rapidly changing organisation also, something I think everyone agrees the libraries need to do at this point?). And then I’d like to see said staff start to get there teeth into as John Dolan puts it…

    “Everything – yes everything – can be fulfilled by the public library vision: big society / local community / devolution / responsibility / environment / self-sufficiency / education / prosperity / self improvement / skills / innovation / economy / we’re in it together………………”
    https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=ind1011&L=LIS-PUB-LIBS&P=R39564&1=LIS-PUB-LIBS&9=A&I=-3&J=on&d=No+Match%3BMatch%3BMatches&z=4

    The community library has a great deal of potential for a great deal more, but it would take experienced/qualified/skilled staff.

    One last point, and I’m not sure how to factor this in yet in terms of turning it around into a strength (i.e., ‘forte’ – turning a weakness into a strength being classical planning technique). Are we moving back to a model of philanthropy? (With the addition of a few mega philanthropists like Google and the Internet Archive)…

    Public Libraries: Back to the Future
    http://bookseller-association.blogspot.com/2010/11/public-libraries-back-to-future.html

    Google et al, does not provide a quality service in library terms, so there is plenty of scope with for the libraries to dance a dance into the future with the Internet (10 years ago I needed to lose 3 stone – you know I found the information I needed on the web, not in my library’s largely on loan collection of books – libraries need to get busy here with the usefulness of the web to a community, raising the information literacy of the community — research shows even digital natives in-between facebook posts are not fantastically info. literate). The philanthropy of companies like Google is welcome, but if people wind up relying on Google alone with no library at all or volunteer libraries have to raise funds then that is a completely different kettle of fish. I’m not sure what to make of that. It’s a major kick in the teeth for the knowledge as a right argument (democracy, etc.).

    I’ll get off of my soapbox now 😉

    G.

    Reply

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