Thursday, 4 February 2010

Potentially dangerous waffle

Bob Usherwood (Chair of SINTO, but writing in a personal capacity) has given his views of the Empower, Inform, Enrich report in a letter to Library & Information Update (Jan/Feb 2010 p29).

Bob was not impressed. Describing it as potentially dangerour waffle he says "For the product of a government that advocates 'evidence based policy' the collection of 'essays'... contains precious little by way of evidence". Asking if the professional librarians involved might now regret that they contributed to this report he warns that "... there is a fear that they reflect a profession that no longer challenges the establishment and is afraid to argue against the conventional wisdom".

He points out that past research using contingent valuation and social auditing has demonstrated the value of libraries to individuals and communities, but that the government has ignored this work, allowing those such as Cllr Foulkes to argue that the only people who support libraries are those with a direct self interest.

Bob then makes a strong defence of the statutory basis of the library service.

We may get a policy statement from Margaret Hodge "in the spring". No doubt it will form a central plank of Gordon Brown's election manifesto (insert sarcasm mark here). It is probable that the battle ground for the future of public libraries will be at local rather than national level as local authorities seek to implement cuts. Evidence of the value of libraries to their communities will be a central weapon and the ability of professional librarians to articulate their arguments to the likes of Cllr Foulkes will be critical.

1 comment:

Carl said...

Useful reference. Understanding our value; assessing the nature of the impact of library services Library and Information Research 33(105) 2009 p62-89