In his recent blog Phil Bradley attacks the website Tim Coates watch and the associated Twitter feed. The core of Phil's argument is:
"The purpose of these accounts is to make direct attacks on a library campaigner, Tim Coates. It's no secret that I don't particularly like him, and I'm pretty sure that he doesn't like me either. I don't like his opinions or his attitude towards librarians. However, he has EVERY right to hold them, and although I think his attempts to save libraries are not focussed in the way that I would like them to be, that's beside the point. Tim would probably use exactly the same words about me.
"If we're to debate and discuss issues, then let us do so. Ad hominem attacks do no good, and in fact draw attention away from challenging his methods and approach. "
I agree with Phil. The annonymous writer of the blog claims to be using satire to poke fun at Mr Coates and his views but appealing to the spirit of Jonathan Swift (or even Viz) does not justify the style and content of this unpleasent blog. As a small illustration the blog's strapline is "The deeds and misdeeds of Tim Coates, bookseller turned self-styled library campaigner". How can you accuse anyone of being a "self-styled" library campaigner? There is no official body which accredits library campaigners so surely everyone who regards themselves as a library campaigner is self styled! This is a minor point but I don't want to give more publicity to the abusive comments the blog regularly employs.
The reason I think that this is important is that I have invited Tim Coates to speak at a SINTO briefing. Now many librarians strongly disagree with Tim's arguments and also in the style in which he presents those arguments. Like Phil they want to argue against them in a professional way but it is difficult when some librarians are resorting to such purile comments. Of course lots of people agree with some of the things that Tim says and many librarians share his criticisms of CILIP and senior professionals. Tim's latest onslaught against CILIP is hard to take because of what could be seen as an insulting and disrespectful comments about our professional association and the concept of professionalism. But is Tim's use of the title SYRUP in reference to CILIP any worse than the suggestion by John Kirriemuir "That CILIP shall henceforth be known as 'CLIPCLOP' as the former is both silly and pretentious, but the latter is merely silly and is therefore an improvement."
Librarianship is not above criticism - being self critical and open to outside criticism is a mark of professionalism. We can respond to criticism but as a profession we should not tollerate the likes of Coates Watch.