Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Sold to the highest bidder; a trip to the Public Sector Show!

I had a day off today and as you do on your precious days off with the sun shining i toddled off down to the Business Design Centre in Islington for the Public Sector Show. Unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be) due to other committments i could only stay for the morning session.

"The Public Sector Show is the only event of its kind designed specifically to address the challenges and issues the public sector, in its entirety, currently faces. The Show is new and FREE TO ATTEND for everyone from the public sector, charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations."

The session i attended was entitled 'Public Service Mutuals: what they are, why they work and how they can work for you' and was introduced by a bright young career minded thing from the Cabinet Office. According to the bright young thing "Mutuals are unleashing a wave of entrepreneurialism and innovation across the public service landscape, enabling staff to own and improve the services they deliver free from the constraints of government control." The first part of this statement, up to and including 'entrepreneurialism' is undeniably true but the second part highly debatable!
The bright young thing then introduced a CEO from a Swindon based mutual which took over the management of community health services in the area, she was very evangelical about the benefits and finished by saying that "staff had been liberated by the change" and now had the "right mindset to deliver a public service that was also a business"! She also said that "the non-profit tag is a misnomer, you have to make a surplus" Hallelujah!
The next speaker was a slightly more canny Senior Commissioning Manager (or something like that?) from a south east authority who talked of a "roller coaster ride" and having a way out in case the plan failed, he also proudly announced that he had personally overseen the outsourcing of 700 jobs to Capita, give that man a knighthood!
Libraries were mentioned as a "growing sector for mutuals".

After the seminar finished i wandered around looking at the shiny people and baubles and had a word with someone at the 'Social Enterprises' stall who looked at my entry badge which had 'Alan Wylie - Library Campaigner - Voices for the Library' in big black bold letters emblazoned on it and said "oh dear so what do you think of GLL then?" to which i replied "well i suppose they might be better than JLIS or LSSI but only just, we'll need to wait and see" and "I'd rather Greenwich and Wandsworth Libraries had been kept in house", she smiled awkwardly, handed me a free pen and fled!

The whole event was weird, like a cross between a car show and the film 'The Tin Men'! I've never seen so many suits in the same place at the same time, the men wore them, the women wore them, in fact the only person that didn't was me! The other strange and worrying thing was that every exhibitor stand had at least one dyed blonde haired woman standing by it, this was obviously to attract the packs of male management types swarming around, how sad and outdated. Is this what the Public Sector has become, a marketeers freak show full of shiny suits, dyed blonde hair and freebies? What happened to our integrity and ethos, has it like everything else been sold to the highest bidder?

So i departed with a bag full of freebies, a stomach full of free cinnamon rolls, black coffee and my ears ringing with tales of "entrepreneurship" and having the "right mind set", feeling soiled and used!

Monday, 29 April 2013

An update on the proposals to privatise the Library of Birmingham

This official statement from Birmingham CC appeared yesterday;


"The following is a statement clarifying the position over the future operation of the Library of Birmingham, in light of recent media reports in which it is claimed that the library is being “outsourced”:
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “When the new Library of Birmingham opens on 3 September 2013 it will be managed by Birmingham City Council."

“We have thought carefully about how to achieve this, which is why we established a Development Trust in 2011 to support the project, working closely with the library service, to explore additional funding opportunities."

“A procurement process for the operational management of the new library was started earlier this year but is not currently being progressed."

If this can be taken at face value then it's good news but why was the procurement process started in the first place? If it was due to doubts about being able to manage the operational costs then what has changed?


A tale of two libraries!

Firstly i purposely didn't take any photos of the libraries involved as i don't really want to put staff under undue pressure by me walking about snapping pictures of their libraries and it's not really my intention to name and shame, the issues and problems are much deeper than just that of individual libraries, managers and staff!

Recently i visited two public libraries, both in North London and both run by different authorities, one a central library and one a large branch library.

Let's take the central library first. The library is newly renovated, with several self serve kiosks, new shelving units and a prominent cafe at the front but there were only 3 staff on view and surprisingly none of them were 'floor walking', they were all behind desks dealing with users! The exterior design was of the 'glass box' school and the interior was of the homogenised, design by numbers, retail school! Fine if you like that kind of thing but personally it leaves me cold, i want a library not a dentists waiting room!
The other worrying thing that was instantly noticeable was that the books on the shelves were untidy and there were piles of books waiting to be shelved.
Now the whole management spin surrounding self serve is that it frees up staff time to walk around 'engaging' with the public and i presume tidying shelves and doing other non-mundane desk bound tasks (whatever they may be?)
So why aren't they then? Could it be that users still want to be dealt with at a desk or/and could it be that they are so short staffed that they have to spend most of their time catching up with the backlog of work that's built up due to being so short staffed? Or it is possible that i walked in at the wrong time of the day?

When i first started working in Public Libraries 20+ years ago shelf tidying was drilled into the staff as one of the key duties that must be performed on a daily basis.
Tidying shelves just doesn't mean making them look neat, although that is important, it really means putting the books in alphabetical or numerical order so that the public can find them and staff can trace reserves, inter-library loans etc., it's, or should be, the benchmark of a well managed and properly staffed library.

It's also a possibility that due to changes in the dynamics of some library management and front line staff, less steeped in the methodical traditions and ethos of the profession, that the importance of shelf tidying is not recognised or prioritised as much? But this is just me thinking aloud and could easily be pure hypothesis?

The large Branch Library in the other authority couldn't have been more different. In contrast to the homogenised, impersonal feel of the newly renovated Central Library, this one felt warm, welcoming and well like a proper library! Yes i know my last statement is highly contentious and objective but it's how i felt!
The library interior obviously hadn't been renovated for some years but there were comfy chairs spread around, 5 staff (yes 5!) on view, a proper full size desk, shelves full of books, a music section with vinyl and scores, a teen area, a large separate children's library, a study area, a PC area, in fact everything you could want and need from a library, it was bloody great!
I had a close look at the 'quick ref' stock and although the collection was relatively small it was adequate but the non-fiction collection was comprehensive and there was a good depth to it. There was also some nice displays, the one on 'London in Film' particularly took my eye.

These are just my rambling observations about two libraries but my point about untidy shelves seems to be a worrying trend.

Anyway it's a bloody shame, there is nothing more off putting than walking into an untidy library and it can't be nice to work in one either, soul destroying i would think?

Friday, 26 April 2013

Seven reasons to oppose the privatisation of the Library of Birmingham - Communities Against The Cuts - 26/4/13

An excellent blog site and excellent piece on the proposed privatisation of the Library of Birmingham with practical steps to take to actively oppose the decision.


"In September the new Library of Birmingham will open to the public of Birmingham. This will be a landmark event in the history of the city and will provide a world class cultural and learning resource to citizens of Birmingham and beyond. Millions of pounds of our money has been spent on the new Library building.
But Birmingham’s Labour Group has betrayed this public vision. When they met in December they decided to privatise the running of the new Library. They have started a procurement process which could allow a private company to take over the running of the Library and make a profit from this great public service."


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Unison Research into Public Library Cuts

Today I attended, along with Unison Stewards/Reps and campaigners from all over the UK, the launch of a research report into Public Library cuts conducted by Steve Davies, University of Cardiff, and Unison. Unfortunately i can't go into detail about what the report says as it is still in draft form and has been embargoed untill June 13 but it definitely doesn't paint the rosy picture as spun by Vaizey and Co.

The seminar took place on the top floor of the new Unison HQ, which has panoramic views of London and looks like a cross between the UN Security Council and the secret pad of a Bond villain!

Dave Prentis kicked off proceedings with a general message of support for libraries and then Steve Davies spoke about the research in detail. Wanda Wyporska, an author, then gave a speech about her life-long passion with libraries, research and reading and lastly Paul Gilroy, the Branch Secretary of the Newcastle Branch gave a detailed account of the campaign against the cuts in his city. As you may know Newcastle Libraries are facing huge cuts with 12 libraries up for the chop and 25.5 FTE library staff facing redundancy, it was all very depressing but heartening to hear of the fightback!

After the morning session the discussion was opened up and Heather took comments and questions from the floor. Obviously i was the first one with my hand up and rattled on about the neo-liberal agenda, 'customers' or 'users/members', PFI, hollowing out, the truth behind the headlines "we're not closing libraries" BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! ;-)

Other delegates spoke about the situations in their own authorities, with tales of low morale, short staffing, the erosion of terms and conditions, the commercialisation of the service, co-location, hubs, shared services, increased stress, lack of leadership/vision, poor management, trusts, privatisation and volunteers replacing paid staff. But also there was lots of talk about promoting the great things that libraries do and working with the community to save them.

It was a useful day and the research when it is finished will be a very valuable piece of evidence as to the crimes being currently committed but there needs to be more of a national campaign, don't get me wrong Speak up for Libraries is a worthwhile initiative but it needs more resources put into it, which unfortunately Unison doesn't appear to have.

So what's the way forward? Well in my opinion it's for branches too make links with local anti-cuts and campaign groups and of course local communities and service users to build coalitions of resistance to fight closures and 'hollowing out'.

Privatisation strikes! Save Birmingham's Library! - Birmingham against the cuts


Cover Photo
We are facing the Robbery of one Birmingham biggest public sevices. Please spread the word invite your friends to this event.

Communities against the cuts is launching a campaign to save our Library from privatisation. This Friday 2pm join us for mass flyer, mass petition and postering of the city centre. Meet by the waterstones at the bullring.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

MORENO VALLEY: City Council considering library privatization - The Press-Enterprise - 28/03/13


"The City Council has asked staff to look into privatizing Moreno Valley Public Library to save money."


"The definition of transparency, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary:

a : Free from pretense or deceit.
b : Easily detected or seen through.
c : Readily understood.
d : Characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.

City residents repeatedly have heard since the beginning of the year that Moreno Valley officials are commited to being completely transparent.
Considering this mantra, I had no reason to expect on Monday, April 1, I would have trouble getting information about the city’s possible plans to contract with a private company, LSSI, for Moreno Valley’s library services."


Friday, 12 April 2013

Gagged Library Workers

A story was recently widely circulated about Canadian Federal Librarians being gagged by a new code of conduct;

"Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in “high risk” activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada.
Given the dangers, the code says the department’s staff must clear such “personal” activities with their managers in advance to ensure there are no conflicts or “other risks to LAC.”"

Yes this is extremely worrying and shocking but it's not new and it's not confined to Canada, Public Library workers in the UK as Local Government employees have always been bound by a 'code of conduct' which stipulates that they mustn't criticise their employer and outside work, in their personal time, their is an 'understanding' that they should act as an 'ambassador' for the council/authority.

This is an example of a standard 'code of conduct' courtesy of Wigan Council http://www.wigan.gov.uk/Services/CouncilDemocracy/PoliciesPlans/StandardsCodeOfPractice/CodeofConductforEmployees.htm

2 Disclosure Of Information

2.7 Employees have a duty to maintain confidentiality and must not disclose any information obtained in the course of their employment to any third party for any unauthorised reason. A disclosure which complies with the requirements of the Whistleblowing Policy will be regarded as authorised disclosure.

7 Personal interests

7.1 Employees must declare to an appropriate manager, any non-financial interests that they consider could bring about conflict with the authority's interests.
7.5 Employees must declare to an appropriate manager (preferably in writing), any non-financial interests that they consider could bring about conflict with the Council's interests. This may include membership of outside bodies in a personal capacity. In such cases employees should be mindful not to place themselves in a situation where their involvement or working contribution could compromise their continuing professional duty to the interests of the Council.

Some Councils, especially since the cuts have kicked in, have been trying to actively enforce or go beyond this code. Library staff in Southampton were not only ordered not to discuss the cuts to their service in public or with councillors but they were also told;

“We should avoid actively encouraging people to complain as this will undermine the value of the comments the council receives if it becomes known.”

This article published in the Guardian in 2011 talks about the 'hollowing out' process taking place in libraries and the 'confidentiality' agreements that staff are bound to;

"Library staff gagged by council confidentiality agreements are unable to speak publicly. But one senior service manager, commenting on condition of anonymity, said: "Lots of the cuts are hidden cuts – to the book fund, to staffing, to outreach, to reader development work. Is that actually just as detrimental as closures? What's the point of a full network if people stop using the service because all these library buildings haven't got anything inside?"

And this example from Doncaster clearly shows the stress that not being able to answer public questions about cuts has on staff and the confusion it causes to users;

“Every day (in a branch) you are asked dozens of times ‘what is happening?’, ‘is this library affected?’, ‘what about your jobs?’. All we can do is speculate which, in theory, could lead to disciplinary action.”

Library staff are also muzzled by online restrictions, many authorities stop staff from using social media sites, actively monitor internet usage and can snoop on email accounts.

See the following blogs and their associated comments for more discussion on this topic



If you want to speak out against your own authority then do it through the union, you could risk being disciplined or sacked if you do it alone but there is nothing stopping you speaking up and out about other authorities and policy makers, in fact why aren't you?


Library Safari anyone?

The first time i heard about a 'Library Safari' i thought it was linked with Under 5 sessions, someone with a guitar singing "we're all going to the zoo tomorrow" but oh no!
A 'Library Safari' is a package offered by Red Quadrant and their partners Konvergence to Library Authorities in order that they can supposedly;

  • Evaluate the current customer experience
  • Assess this against experiences in other environments, specifically retail

  • Delegates will participate in an active practical “safari”, visiting local retail premises to explore the environment, map customer journeys, measure activities etc. They will then apply the same principles within the host library before developing a “plan of action” for their application in their own authority.
    They offer an introduction to the concept of "decoding the customer journey", rediscovering and improving libraries using insights gained from a retail perspective.

    Now in principle this is a great idea, of course library staff should be familiar with their local environment and community, this should be done automatically as part of the staff induction process and staff should as a part of their day to day work be actively involved in promoting, to use two management terms, 'embedding' and 'engagement'. But, and it's a big but, not with a view to introducing retail models into their libraries.

    The other thing that strikes me about this is how do small businesses in the catchment area of a library feel when that library tries to compete in their market place, renting dvds, faxing, scanning, selling books, selling coffee etc etc? I'm sure that they are not very happy about it and i wouldn't blame them after all business is bad enough without a public service trying to muscle in. Not that I'm in any way extolling the virtues of SME's, but you know what I'm getting at.

    And why are we trying to muscle in? Well that's something I've discussed many a time, see;


    Wednesday, 10 April 2013

    Birmingham Libraries to be run by private company

    Someone very kindly brought this to my attention, it's a procurement notice for the operation of the Library of Birmingham project;


    "The Library of Birmingham project will create a new library for Birmingham, replacing the current 1970’s central library. It will comprise of 10 levels; nine above ground and one below ground amounting to approximately 31,000m² of space. Construction will be completed by mid-2013. The new Library will set new standards for libraries both in terms of iconic design and in terms of creating an exceptional resource for learning, information, and culture. This is an exciting opportunity to modernise the library service for the people of Birmingham for the decades to come. The Library has been designed to be open, welcoming and accessible and with an embedded technology focus running throughout the building. The successful applicant will be expected to operate the Library of Birmingham (LoB) including but not limited to the City’s archive collection, support services for Community Libraries, the Mobile Library, Library Service at Home and management of the Council’s book fund."

    See the Library Campaign website for more on this story;


    And some breaking news; it looks as if LSSI might be bidding for the contract?

    1. Alan Wylie@wylie_alan19h
    2.   yes thanks for this helpful insight Stuart, are LSSI bidding for it?

    1.   hahaha! That's commercially confidential information! Why does one presume a private co will win it?

    see earlier tweet by Stuart Fitzgerald;
    Stuart Fitzgerald@stuwystv5 Mar
     almost - actually 1997 California; tomorrow push for Sefton n Brum!

    Harrow and Ealing; an update

    It seems that Harrow and Ealing have put of the decision to privatise their library services for another month, the decision was due in April but now wont be made untill May 2013.
    I'm afraid i don't know the reason for this but it seems to be the norm in procurement processes.

    For background see;



    Sunday, 7 April 2013

    Disney and Bookshops in Public Libraries; an exciting opportunity or a conflict?

    Two quotes recently by Diana Edmonds, Head of Library operations for GLL, that really sum up for me the retail/market led agenda prevalent in public libraries;

    "We need to make libraries more exciting for the next generation – they should rival Disney in terms of excitement."

    "Diana was offering to explore the idea of the bookshop being housed inside Northcote Library. Boundaries would have to be recognised and respected, and a fair rent agreed, but she did not see a conflict between library and shop, they both attract booklovers."

    The first one about Disney, something i wrote about recently see; http://dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-disneyfication-of-public-libraries.html, sends shivers down my spine, a public service being talked about in the same terms as the Disney corporation, it beggars belief.

    The second one is more interesting because it talks of "boundaries" and "conflict", the very same issues that arise when you introduce retail models and private finance into a public service but it doesn't seem to bother Diana, who appears to see the crisis in public libraries in the same way as a young child would as it peered longingly into a sweet shop window.

    GLL currently manage Greenwich and Wandsworth Libraries and it will be interesting to see what models are introduced, what boundaries are crossed and what conflicts arise?

    Friday, 5 April 2013

    My submission on Library Cuts to the European Workers Conference in Tarragona, 16 & 17/3/13

    Public Library cuts and the effects on working class communities in the UK; a brief overview


    In 1913 Lenin, in a sharply satirical piece written for Pravda (What Can be Done for Public Education), extolled the importance of Public Libraries to the masses;


    “There are quite a number of rotten prejudices current in the Western countries of which Holy Mother Russia is free. They assume there, for instance, that huge public libraries containing hundreds of thousands and millions of volumes, should certainly not be reserved only for the handful of scholars or would-be scholars that uses them. Over there they have set themselves the strange, incomprehensible and barbaric aim of making these gigantic, boundless libraries available, not to a guild of scholars, professors and other such specialists, but to the masses, to the crowd, to the mob!”

    Rabochaya Pravda No. 5, July 18, 1913


    And 100 years later we find ourselves in the situation where 347 libraries in the UK have been closed or are at threat of closure, between 2000-3000 staff made redundant, opening hours slashed and services being handed to volunteers, private firms or in other ways divested.

    According to recent figures in the first two years of the Condem government investment in libraries fell by 16%, so no wonder services are being cut but in my opinion this isn’t the only reason for the decline, the neo-liberal agenda prevalent in senior management and policy makers over the last 10-15 years has been equally, if not more, too blame for the current crisis.


    Library users are now called ‘customers’, libraries are ‘re-branded’ as ‘Discovery Centres’, ‘The Hive’, ‘The Lounge’, library staff are now ‘customer service assistants’ or ‘customer service managers’, self service is rife and the whole vision is for a more market led service with choice as the new mantra. But as we will see the concept of ‘choice’ is often delusionary and is linked to class and access to services and resources.


    Library services are also being over-diversified to the point where they are barely recognisable as libraries, turned into ‘one stop shops’ that offer a whole host of services not traditionally linked to libraries.

    In my opinion this over-diversification not only detracts from core purpose of public libraries as bastions of freely accessible information/knowledge and educational/learning opportunities but crucially if the public and political perception is altered then it can make it easier to cut or divest them.

    The plot thickens when you look at the links that The Society of Chief Librarians have with the Chief Leisure Officers Association which in my opinion is not an informal or coincidental relationship.


    Three councils in the UK, Greenwich, Wandsworth and Hounslow, (with Croydon, Ealing and Harrow in the pipe line) have privatised their library services, JLIS in Hounslow are a building firm and GLL (a Social Enterprise) in Greenwich and Wandsworth run Leisure Centres and swimming pools. Workers transferred over to these companies often experience detrimental terms and conditions and are often denied union recognition. And there serious concerns with private firms that if profit is the overriding motive then users and the service will suffer?

    For more details see my blog www.dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.com

    The Arts Council, the body given the development remit for libraries in England, has had its funding cut and has had a new Chair, Peter Bazalgette, with his links to and experience of private finance thrust upon them, the old Chair, Liz Forgan, was ousted for allegedly being too close to the Labour Party? So there is a clear political agenda to attract private money to the sector and to sideline and actively divest the service.

    We also have a Secretary of State, Ed Vaizey, and his sidekick, Maria Miller, who not only refuse to intervene when councils slash library services but publicly state that the service is in rude health!


    Having less paid staff also poses major problems, outreach programmes are reduced, staff are put under severe stress and strain, specialist knowledge is lost, morale and motivation levels plummet and the ‘ethos’ is eroded. Slowly but surely the service is ‘hollowed out’ leading to a less responsive, professional and accountable service. The introduction of self serve into libraries also leads to staff cuts and changes the relationship between users and workers to that of one that is more akin to a retail transaction.

    The formation and development of volunteer run so-called ‘community libraries’, which although was originally put forward by Labour and has been taken up as a desperate option by many communities who have had a gun put to their heads and told “run your library or we’ll close it”, is now being orchestrated and bankrolled by ‘locality’, the political wing of the DCLG and last year for the first time more volunteers where working in public libraries than paid staff;


    “in 2011/12 there were 23,397 volunteers, and 21,780 staff, the first year that volunteer numbers have surpassed staff numbers.”


    So what effect do all these political shenanigans, budget cuts and changes of perceptions and agendas have on library users, many of whom are working class and socially and economically disadvantaged?

    Well in practical terms having less library buildings, or costly new PFI ones built in town centres, means that some of the poorer, vulnerable and less mobile members of a community may have to travel further to use the service and if they haven’t got enough money for petrol or a bus or train fare then they are denied access (many mobile and housebound services have also been cut). Ah! but couldn’t they just access e-books and online resources I hear you say, well many do but there are still many caught up in the digital divide without internet access or the skills needed to utilise the technology. For detailed figures see http://www.21stcenturychallenges.org/60-seconds/what-is-the-digital-divide/

    Also instead of the national service being ‘comprehensive and efficient’ as stated in the 1964 Act it has now become a postcode lottery in respect of which level and model of service you are lucky or in most cases unlucky to have in your local area. This is further complicated by the issue of class; middle/upper middle class communities often have more time and resources to fight cuts and to run and develop services themselves which often means that working class communities lose out.


    Public Libraries play a crucial part in the socio-economic wellbeing of many working class communities, they offer free, although many now charge for IT use, access to lifelong learning opportunities which leads to an increase in empowerment and social equity, the very reason that the Condems are trying to destroy them.

    Austerity is a myth perpetrated by the ‘Troika’, banks and reactionary, imperialist and capitalist governments to attack the working classes, Public Sector and the Trade Union Movement. We need to mobilise workers, trade unionists and local working class communities together in a combined and focussed fight back against these savage attacks before we lose libraries and many other crucial public services, which it goes without saying would be a disaster.

    In praise of the Mundane.

    I keep hearing in library circles the phrase 'mundane tasks' used especially in relation to self serve;

    "Communicate to your staff that self-checkout allows them more time to provide personalized assistance and customer service to patrons when it is genuinely needed, instead of spending their valuable time on the mundane tasks at the circulation desk." http://www.libraryworks.com/LW_Best%20Practices/BP_ITG_0110.aspx

    "With self-service machines taking on mundane tasks, staff are freed up to improve service in other areas."

    "Taking routine, mundane tasks away from skilled staff frees them up to deal with more complex enquiries."

    "Added value - library staff can spend more time helping the public rather than the mundane task of booking items in and out."

    You get the drift.

    What are these 'mundane tasks' and should we be 'freed up' from them?

    Library work has always had at it's foundations a host of small, methodical jobs that combined not only contribute to the smooth running of the service but also teach library staff their trade. In the morning, throughout the working day and at closing we all have a list of tasks that need to be done in order that we can do what we do. To me these tasks have a contemplative almost meditational quality, I used to love filing amendments into loose leaf volumes and hand writing hundreds of cards for the beautiful wooden catalogue cabinets.

    Some of the more interactive tasks are done at the circulation desk, someone returning or borrowing a book might get into a conversation with a member of library staff about the book, this personal interation is key to what we do and who we are, and herein lies the problem, an ever increasing amount of libraries have either removed or reduced their desks and have either removed or reduced their paid staff. I've also had front line library staff tell me that their managers don't like them talking to the users too much, which I'm sure you will agree raises serious ethical and professional issues.

    I know that a lot of front line library staff are very concerned about this and feel that they are being de-skilled and the relationship that they have built up over the years with users and local community is being eroded.

    Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that staff should spend all their time doing these tasks, it's very important for staff development and morale/motivation that staff are given a wide spectrum of responsibilities and roles and I'm not saying that we should not embrace new technology, of course we should, although with a caveat that it is relevant and needed, all i am saying is that we all, too varying degrees, learn our 'trade' through attention to detail, being methodical and performing essential 'mundane tasks'.