Monday, 14 February 2011

Tim Coates watch

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.



Silversprite said...

Annoying distraction

Tim Coates said...


My attack is relentless. I believe that the current closures of libraries has been caused more by the lont term behaviour of the library profession than it has been by the short term deficit cutting of the Government. The profession has urged overspending and diversification into activities, in public libraries, that have destroyed the core of the service. For that reason the public use has gone down and when seeking to recuperate those excesses councillors, reasonably and logically, have sought to close libraries. The public, rightly, are begging them to delay execution, but unless the profession re-appraises and changes its approach, this stay will be temporary and the remainder of the libraries will have gone in a few years. That is why I believe my criticism of the profession is a defence of public libraries- the problem has to be faced and solved. If you look at the work in Somerset, it tells the whole story-- the profession have vehemently opposed my proposals to save libraries, so that instead they can save their own jobs. That is appalling, but is real, I bear the scars .. Tim

CoatesWatch said...

You can see our view of this at the new post, I am (not) Spartacus

CoatesWatch said...

We've replied:
Reserve us some seats at the front.

Carl said...

CoatesWatch is/are welcome to attend. Please make a booking in your real name(s)

CoatesWatch said...

Kind of you, but we're washing our hair that night. But did you know that Tim seems to have retitled the debate?

Anonymous said...

let's get our spelling right! We are librarians after all. It's puerile with an e and tolerate with one l.

Hazel said...

Heaven preserve us from this petty bickering, PLEASE! Picking up on poor spelling (typing?) in a blog post is childish not professional! Sure, it shouldn't have happened but I defy anyone to say, hand on heart, that they have never hit the publish button before that final check! I'll join any campaign going to allow others access to the fantastic service I can get when combining my county public library service (for fiction and newspapers) with access to the British Library for serious research.

Carl said...

Thanks for your support but I hang my head over 'puerile' as it is a known unknown i.e. I know I don't know how to spell puerile so I should always check it! As you say, though, there are bigger issues at stake (or is it steak?)