Alliance calls for 'liberation' of librarians

Alliance calls for 'liberation' of librarians

<p>The newly formed alliance of grass-roots library campaign groups today (1st July) launched a national Library Charter calling for the &ldquo;liberation&rdquo; of librarians to run their service based on what their communities want.</p><p>It also announced it would be targeting the councils with the worst library services in the country with PR and marketing campaigns. </p><p>The alliance of library users incorporates the capital&rsquo;s umbrella group Londoners for Libraries for Life, chaired by campaigner Tim Coates, as well as The Library Campaign, Alan Gibbons&rsquo; Campaign for the Book, and individual campaign groups including those in the Wirral, in Swindon and in Puddletown in Dorset. </p><p>The 12-point Charter for Change is the alliance&rsquo;s opening salvo in its battle to improve the library service and will be published online, with campaign groups encouraged to sign up. </p><p>The charter says that if the public library service across the country were to adopt the same changes undertaken by Hillingdon council in 2007, the total cost saving&mdash;while improving services&mdash;would be &pound;200m. It calls for libraries to be individual and local, with increased opening hours and improved library collections, as well as for &ldquo;accurate, meaningful and consistent reporting of library budgets and expenditure&rdquo; to stop waste, and the &ldquo;liberation&rdquo; of skilled librarians in providing the service.</p><p>Coates said: &ldquo;The whole administration of the public library service should be junked. Not the hardworking people in local libraries, but the administrators and officials who, over many years, have ignored what the public want and need and indulged in their expensive fantasies of social improvement and failed to adopt the technical improvements and efficiencies available.&rdquo;</p><p>He held up London&rsquo;s Upper Norwood library, run by chief librarian Bradley Millington, as an example of a liberated and librarian-led successful institution. &ldquo;By a strange quirk of history it is not in either Lambeth or Croydon, but was set up as its own library authority nearly 100 years ago,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Millington is in complete control of his own budget, and it&rsquo;s a superb library because he has the freedom to do what he wants to do.&rdquo;</p><p>Coates said the alliance aimed to raise &pound;100,000 in an initial stage of fundraising for PR and campaigns targeting individual local councils and calling on them to improve their libraries. Pub&shy;licist Nic Pettifer and advertising agency Splash are both on board to help deliver the campaigns. The first councils to be targeted will be the London borough of Lambeth, and Doncaster &ldquo;because their library services are incredibly poor and local people are in despair,&rdquo; Coates said. </p>