Private Public and General Specific…

When is a librarian a member of ‘the public?’ If you are a public librarian in Authority A, but live in Authority B, are you a member of ‘the public’ for Authority B? And if you’re a college librarian in A, are you a member of ‘the public’ for A?

More broadly, if you are a librarian is it fair to lump you in with civil servants, e.g. people at the MLA, DCMS etc? ‘They’ make decisions ‘the public’ don’t like, so you are responsible.

Who are ‘the public?’ And who really speaks for ‘the public?’ And how accountable are some of these spokespeople?

Note: Private Public and General Specific are characters from the great cartoon Sheep in the City.

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2 Responses to Private Public and General Specific…

  1. Michael says:

    I think we’re all “the public” at one time or another, as you point out. And I think our elected representatives – Councillors and MPs – ought to be able to provide that spokesperson function. Or am I being typically naive?

  2. Pete says:

    Councillors and MPs ought to indeed. But even they are conflicted, as they have party agendas to work to.
    I am more concerned with the use of ‘the public’ in discourse. It’s easy enough to claim that you speak for the public, but without the electoral mandate ofcouncillors and MPs, how strong is that claim? And how much proof should we demand of this ability to speak for the public?
    Quite a bit I’d say. If you are using the support of ‘the public’ for your arguments, you need to show that there is genuine public support for your position. That there are people who agree with you is not the same thing.

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