Advocating for Libraries in an Era of Cuts


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Presentation for the SHARP Conference in Dublin, 25th June 2012.

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Advocating for Libraries in an Era of Cuts

  1. 1. Advocating for libraries in an era of cuts Lauren Smith Department of Computer and Information Studies University of StrathclydeCC image
  2. 2. Spending Cuts • £81bn cut from public spending over four years • 7% cut for local councils • 265 libraries (224 buildings and 41 mobiles) are currently under threat or have been closed/left council control since 1/4/12 out of c. 4612 in the UK • Emphasis on Localism for provision of public servicesCC image
  3. 3. “There Is No Alternative” • Tax avoidance and evasion by corporations and the rich and is estimated to cost the state £95bn a year • Average pay of FTSE 100 directors has risen 55% • Corporation tax has been cut • The government have not delivered on a manifesto pledge to clamp down on tax avoidance • Last year banks paid out over £7bn in bonuses • There has been no reform of the banks image
  4. 4. Stakeholders
  5. 5. Arts Council England • Museums, Libraries and Archives Council abolished October 2011 • Responsibilities passed to Arts Council England • £13m funds cut to £3m • ‘Envisioning the Library of the Future’ May 2012 • Expertise in arts rather than education – emphasis on cultureCC image
  6. 6. eBook Publishers • DRM • Pricing structures • Remote lending • Compatible formats • Whether publishers want to work in partnership with libraries at allCC image
  7. 7. The Role of the Public Library • Education? • Aspirational? • Entertainment? • Populist? • Leisure? • Symbolic? • Information? • Neutral? • Entertainment? • Values?CC image
  8. 8. Campaigning • Local campaign groups • Voices for the Library • The Library Campaign • UNISON • Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) • The Bookseller • Authors • Campaign for the BookCC image
  9. 9. Legal Challenges • May 2011: Legal action underway in Suffolk until council performed u-turn • November 2011: High Court ruling that Gloucestershire County Council’s original plans for public library service cuts were unlawful • March 2012: Court found Surrey Council’s plans for volunteer libraries were unlawful • July 2012: Application for Judicial Review in Doncaster challenging elected mayor’s refusal to change budget despite two thirds of councillors voting in favour of an amendmentCC image
  10. 10. Local Solutions for Future Local Library Services • Public-private partnership • Merging with GP surgery • Merging council, police and cultural services • Merging library service across councils • Merging different types of libraryCC image
  11. 11. “There have already been library closures andmany of these new projects are in their infancy.Though we hope they all succeed this is far fromguaranteed. Its vital government recognises thatthis record of innovation does not mean it cankeep cutting funding and expect councils to workmiracles, perpetually doing more with less.Theres a critical mass and were already stretchedto the limit. Further cuts on top of those werealready managing could well result in libraryclosures across much of the country.” Local Government Association
  12. 12. Closures • Reduced access to learning and information resources • Impact on communities and local businesses • Impact on reputation of council • Impact on authors and publishersCC image
  13. 13. Volunteer-Run Libraries Benefits Drawbacks • Community • Pressure on involvement and communities control • Sustainability • Library remains • Quality open • Skills • Cheaper for council • Legal issuesCC image
  14. 14. Privatisation • Open Public Services agenda • Profit motive • Potential charging for services • Cost to council • Loss of neutrality • Risk of bankruptcy • Lack of transparency • Reduced staff pensions and employment rightsCC image
  15. 15. Library Values 1. Libraries serve humanity 2. Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated 3. Use technology intelligently to enhance service 4. Protect free access to knowledge 5. Honor the past and create the future Gorman, M. (1995) ‘Five new laws of librarianship’. American Libraries, 26 (8), pp.784-5CC image
  16. 16. Librarians and Library Staff • Professional education • Trained, skilled and experienced • Technical abilities • Collection management • Neutral and non-judgemental • Paid to perform tasks volunteers may not want toCC image
  17. 17. Public Lending Right • DCMS Consultation on proposals to transfer PLR funding and functions to British Library from PLR in Stockton on Tees • PLR will not apply to non-council supported volunteer-run libraries • Copyright legislation means that volunteer libraries may need licence from author to loan booksCC image
  18. 18. Literacy "According to Unesco (the United Nations agency which promotes knowledge), the biggest single indicator of whether a child is going to thrive at school and in work is whether or not they read for pleasure.” Frank Cottrell Boyce image
  19. 19. Fragmentation • Lack of national standards for libraries • ‘Postcode lottery’ across country and within local authorities • Inefficient, un-networked service locally and nationallyCC image