What’s going on with CILIP?

This morning I stumbled across this blog post on the CILIP website about volunteers in libraries. The most interesting (slash disturbing) statement being:

“The Policy Department at CILIP is currently drawing together a position statement about community managed libraries. For us it seems essential that, when set up, they should fall within the statutory provision and be considered an integral part of the public library network – for this they will rely on the continued existence of a professionally led, quality statutory service.”

Hardly the stirring attack on coalition policy that many advocates would have hoped for. Let’s hope that as well as campaigning for libraries, CILIP also leads the way in the fight against privatisation and the coalition’s destructive ideology.


Annie Mauger has subsequently added this statement to the aforementioned blog post:

“The Blog below was written with the intent of contributing to the debate on the use of volunteers and community managed libraries and pointing out some dilemmas that the profession is facing. CILIP’s standpoint remains that only a professionally run library service can fully meet community needs and comply with the statutory requirements.

We sincerely apologise to anybody who thinks otherwise from this blog. I made a speech with the Minister present at the Future of Public libraries event on 20th June reinforcing the value of professional services and why we need them. CILIP will continue to advocate the importance of professionally run services and experienced staff and the contribution they make to communities, families and society.”


6 thoughts on “What’s going on with CILIP?

  1. Sounds like bowing to the ‘inevitable’ and fighting a rear-guard action? ie, if we *have* to have some volunteer/community run libraries, then let’s start now campaigning for them to prevent them being pushed outside the statutory provision fold or outside of support from central council services (eg the LMS).

    Have any councils actually hived off any of their public libraries into these community/social enterprise arrangements yet? Or has it so far just been threatened / “consulted on”? If the former I could understand CILIP taking this stance, but if it’s the latter then this statement could be seen as throwing in the towel a bit early!

      • I also think CILIP faces a difficult balancing act between advocating for the ideal situation (a professionally staffed, well resourced, respected and utilised public library service) and fighting a rear-guard action to make the best of a (bad) reality – councils cutting hours, services, staff, stock, etc, etc – by educating people that volunteers aren’t a cure-all solution and do have costs (both direct and opportuntiy cost) that must be taken into account.

  2. When I first skimmed through that post in a feed reader I didn’t realise that it was a ‘CILIP’ post – the opening paragraph frames it very much in terms of a personal response to an Umbrella visit, and people are welcome, of course, to have whatever thoughts like want about what they saw and did at Umbrella.

    But when you notice that it’s sigend off by a CILIP Policy Officer, well…

  3. I think I’m missing something from all of this. It seems to me that CILIP is actually on the same page as everyone else regarding this issue and I’m wondering if what we’re looking at is a breakdown/misunderstanding of communication. Having said that, if the message has been misunderstood/misinterpreted by the membership, that doesn’t bode well for any advocacy/PR initiatives for the wider populus. It could just be me but I don’t think we’ve got the balance of communication between CILIP ‘the body’ and individual members quite right but it would appear both sides are open to rectifying that.

  4. Thanks all for the comments. I am encouraged by the fact that Annie acted so quickly to clarify CILIP’s position regarding volunteers in libraries. However, I am still slightly disturbed that this message ‘slipped’ out in the first place. Surely a Policy Officer should take more care with the message that they are putting across? It is clear from the reaction of many today that they felt let down by the blog post itself. With the need to pull together to fight library cuts across ALL sectors, there is a real need for the professional body to consider carefully the impact of the blog posts they publish.

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