Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Community engagement

I recently blogged about community engagement and a course that SINTO is planning to run on this subject. I pointed out that community engagement is one of the "ingredients for change" that are listed in the recent Future libraries report. Most of the debate on this report has, understandably, focused on the "four models of reform"  but the ten ingredients for change were identified as important success factors in developing, planning and implementing change. While politicians, heads of library service and the profession and public at large are debating the pros and cons of the models, it will be job of senior library managers to look at the list of ingredients and consider how they can be embedded within their library services. It doesn't grab the headlines but it is an essential part of delivering a library service.

The response so far to the SINTO course has been 'interesting'. One library authority wants to run the course in-house for their staff as they see it as an important part of what they are trying to achieve and want as many staff as possible to attend. I have been happy to help arrange this.

Apart from that I have had only one booking. Does this mean that the topic is not relevant to most authorities? But in that case why is it relevant to two? Is it that senior library managers want to send people on the course but cannot afford it? Or is it the case that over the summer librarians are focusing on their holidays? To be fair, perhaps they are focusing on keeping the service running with reduced staffing levels as other people are on holiday!

I have talked in the past about workforce development. In theory, libraries decide what it is they want to do (e.g engage with their communities), identify the skills that they will need to achieve this and then identify the training provision that will give their staff those skills. In practice it does not always work out like that!  Perhaps the e-mails, flyers, blogs and Tweets I have sent out about this course have got lost in the clutter on people's desk, or in-boxes or brains. It happens! See Current Awareness, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the "Mark All As Read" Button by Woodsiegirl and Phil Bradley on filter failure.

I have to remain relaxed about all this. I put this course in the SINTO programme because I thought it was important for the current workforce development needs of our members. If  I am wrong then I will postpone or cancel it. But perhaps, when we get to the end of this long hot summer (as if), people will rediscover the messages under all the clutter and will book places. Let me know soon - I am taking a late break myself!

1 comment:

C John Hughes said...

Hi, Carl. It's possible that some library MANAGERS are sceptical about the term "community engagement" if it's translated by local politicians as a means of making cuts i.e. closing libraries and offering them up to local community groups of volunteers.

I realsie that isn't the intention of your course and personally I'm of the view that a course such as yours should be attended by officers and elected members "hand-in-hand" as it were.

Maybe there's a need to seen how the various judicial revieews pan out?

John Hughes