Monday, 7 February 2011

Libraries and Librarians and the way of the Dodo

well... It seems in this country we don't require the services of public libraries and Librarians.. or so the government thinks. The Con-Dems think that it is adequate to remove half of them and staff the rest with volunteers. As a Librarian and a user of public libraries I AM DISGUSTED. Volunteers have always been appreciated in libraries of all kinds and they are valued, greatly valued, I have had the great fortune to work with many in my career and I think that most would be the first to agree, Librarianship is a PROFESSION. Would you expect a volunteer to give you a filling? or an injection? or teach your children? No you wouldn't, so why should you expect them to run Libraries? It's not just about public libraries either, hospitals, universities, they are being squeezed, staff are leaving and not being replaced, or being actively made "redundant". Librarianship? it's all about stamping a few books isn't it? Well no. It's about selecting the stock for your customers, it's about having the skills to organise them in the correct way, your average volunteer wouldn't know their way around a MARC record. We have so many aspects to our work, we are expected to teach new users how to search bibliographic databases, we have to be experts on copyright, we have to know what books will be suitable for a 10 year old to read, where to find old family history documents for those assembling their family trees. We have to find research documentation for nurses and doctors working for our fantastic NHS, teach students from all over the world how to reference articles for their dissertations and peel them off the ceiling when the computer they are working on crashes and loses their work. Its about indexing and organising case notes for Barristers arguing your court cases. We run Institutional Repositories to get organisational research out into the world. We push for and support the open access movement. We provide safe refuges for the homeless to read the paper and for old people living on state pensions barely enough to provide the essentials find books and surf the net. We support, educate, entertain and inform the world at large because despite popular opinion you can't find everything on the internet. Google is NOT a cure-all. We CAN help you! We are Librarians, we work in Libraries, In Law firms, in hospitals, in schools, in universities, in government! and IN YOUR COMMUNITY. Use us, and tell the government that you value us before it's too late, because when we are gone, you'll miss us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well said Sarah! I also think that libraries and librarians are much more than stamping a few books! I would have thought that the Lib/Con government would have been all for education. It would seem not. Your account of affairs is exactly like it is here. No one is happy in their work anymore. A job is a job and no one cares how well you do it. Things are going down hill fast. Sad but true, it's a world wide pandemic!