Let’s Get Real – Libraries are in Crisis. Now!

Laura Swaffield, chair of The Library Campaign, says it’s time to stop arguing and call for ACTION. She has presented this list to the Society of Chief Librarians. Comments – and additions – please!

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1. The Library Campaign is getting a constant stream of requests for help & advice from communities trying to take over libraries (with or without council support). It is hard to give them what they need.

2. Moreover, we have the absurd and wasteful situation where many library services are having to deal individually with a large number of new problems that are, in fact, common to all. Some could be answered by an expert panel, and standard fact sheets. Others need proper agreements at national level.

3. Also needed is a means of maintaining awareness of what a proper library service is, especially among those who now can only easily access a “community-run” facsimile.

We suggest a checklist of what a full service offers, to be ticked at each site, so that all can see what is available on site, remain aware of what is available at the ‘central’ library, and perhaps aspire to
restoring a full service in time.

A good example of the genre is the ‘model of service’ checklist-cum-development-plan produced by the Reading Agency in 2007 for their improvement programme for youth libraries (Fulfilling Their Potential).

See pp 7-10. Campaigner magazine Winter 2007-8: No 75 on our home page.

The Library Campaign

BASIC STARTER LIST OF ISSUES

1. Need for proper access to/analysis of CIPFA figures.
2. PLR (relationship to national system, possible extra costs to non-statutory libraries, etc).
3. Real implications of /requirements under legislation covering health & safety, equalities, human rights, TUPE, copyright (eg, photocopying), licensing for events/music/films/alcohol, data
protection, etc.
4. Insurance
5. Protection of children & vulnerable adults, CRB etc.
6. Handling cash/security.
7. RFID.
8. LMS – small individual or linked to council system.
9. IT systems – as above.
10. Access to borough/national catalogues & inter-library loans.
11. Status of the Universal Offers & other national reading schemes, eg Summer Reading Challenge.
12. Ability to help with online benefit claims, job applications etc (IT provision, staff training, ethics/legality of volunteers handling personal information).
13. Access to national schemes like the Reference Online discount deal.
14. Access to reading groupsets music & playsets.
15. Training required to deal with all the above.
16. Organisational kit – draft constitution etc.
17. Volunteer policy.
18. General advice on funding/sustainability;
19. Safeguards for communities that can’t run their own library.
20. Guidance on support by that is needed by volunteers.
21. Advice on which general model to adopt in running a “community” service.
22. Stock management (eg, dealing with additions, exchanges and withdrawals for stock provided by the library authority).
23. Not least, numerous health & professional issues for trained staff having to train/work with large numbers of untrained staff.

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Please feel free to add your comments and suggestions.

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