Tuesday, January 7, 2014

the real reason libraries are struggling...

Some of you will know that I've a long-term interest (love) in libraries - especially with regard to the support that they can offer local communities in light of increasing cuts to others public services. I also curate a twitter list at https://twitter.com/AdrianAshton2/lists/libraries
Contributors to that list often cite various reasons as to the decline and difficulties our public libraries currently face, but I'm coming to the idea that actually the biggest problem for our libraries isn't changing demographics, the rise of the internet, etc but something far more mundane - council bureaucracy! 

I was recently invited to have my picture taken by my local newspaper in Todmorden library as part of a feature on the support that's available to start-up businesses in the local area. However, despite speaking with the library staff and making 2 phone calls to heads of departments, we could only gain a provisional permission to have picture taken of me (a library-card carrying member) looking at some of their books on business start-up (to encourage more people to check them out and use the library), in a public building!, and that final permission would only be given once they'd seen the pictures that the press photographer had taken...

With this clear lack of leadership, is it any wonder that libraries are struggling to remain engaged with the changing faces of their local communities? 
Maybe this is why many feel that the future of public libraries lies in their being managed by the communities they serve, and moving out of local authority ownership and control (after all, that's how public libraries originally started!)

updated - well, it looks like we finally got full permission after all! the pictures now on-line in glorious technicolour - http://bit.ly/KfrKN3

1 comment:

  1. its sad really, sad that good people have to dance to a tune that is not in harmony with community.
    when its really cold i like to go into the library to warm up and save heating , i think that keeping warm should come out of the closet, we should celebrate the power the libraries have to warm the body and feed the soul. we should also at the same time hold them to account .