Of closed shops and service; and weekends

I’m involved in a spot of blog tennis with Tim Coates. I agree with a lot of Tim’s views on public libraries, but perhaps not on how to improve them. And his straw librarian is rather overused. And the whole need to ‘save’ libraries seems to demand that he makes libraries and librarians seem as selfish, out of touch and contemptible as possible. I’m sure most librarians would be happy to open and work on weekends; and that asking for some pay/time off in lieu does not make them whiners or ‘yickers’ but pretty much the same as the shop workers we should all model ourselves on.

I have no desire to have a closed shop for librarianship- librarianship as a whole, not simply in public libraries. Nor do I think that a qualification entitles you to a job, or greater pay- you still have to get the job and then do it well. But study shows a commitment to a career; that you want to do this. And that should be recognised when you do the job.

Tim says ‘There is almost no staff turnover in the library service and that is reflected in the service that is given. There isn’t an appropriate mix of age, culture and experience as there needs to be. It’s not fair on the public who pay.’ That may well be true, but I’m not sure that deprofessionalising is the answer. There need to be more routes to professional status, and recognition for it (when the job is done well, indeed), not fewer.


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