Friday, 18 May 2018

The Society of Chief Librarians, Sopra Steria and visa/immigration services in libraries!

It appears that the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) have been busy striking a deal with the IT outsourcing firm Sopra Steria to deliver their newly won digital visa/immigration contract via 56 public libraries.

Sopra Steria have an 'interesting' record, they were recently linked to a scandal re the loss of 500,000 NHS documents and the loss of 220 jobs in their UK government business.

I suppose it's seen in library establishment circles as just another pragmatic partnership a bit like the ones with Barclays, Cisco, Halifax et al but it'll be interesting to see how this develops and whether CILIP, library users/staff and campaigners put up a fight against what many will see as another major invasion of public library space by a private interest and a further erosion of our ethos.

Friday, 11 May 2018

DILON & whiteness in librarianship, my article for 'Opendemocracy' and privatisation in Herefordshire and Hertfordshire.


Firstly and most importantly - the issue of 'whiteness' in the UK library and information profession (96.7% white) is one that needs to be urgently discussed and addressed so it's great to see a new group 'Diversity in Libraries of the North (DILON)' set up which "advocates for POC/BME/non-white library and information workers in the north of England". For more about the group read this interview with the founder Jen Bayjoo.

'Opendemocracy' article

Recently I wrote a piece for 'Opendemocracy' on the fight against library cuts and the need for Labour to adopt a national policy supporting statutory public libraries and the paid/trained staff who work in them.

"Campaigners were told to "innovate don't save” and urged to "adopt a positive narrative…if you keep saying libraries are in crisis then people will start to believe it"
But groups like Voices for the Library, Speak up for Libraries & the newer Radical Librarians Collective spoke out against the cuts and the closures. We spoke out against privatisation and commercialisation. And we were ridiculed and side-lined but we kept speaking out.
Hundreds of local campaign groups were formed and spoke up too, organising hundreds of marches and protests and union and community activists even managed to organise a national demo in 2016."

It's heartening to see Labour supporting Unison's campaign and petition opposing the privatisation of libraries in Herefordshire.

"UNISON believes that the public deserve the best possible service when it comes to Museums, Libraries and Archives and our policy is always to keep services in-house."


It looks very likely that Hertfordshire CC will adopt the PSM (Public Service Mutual) model for their library service. They cite Suffolk, Devon, York and Northamptonshire as successful adopters of this model but recently worrying figures have shown a 43% drop in usage in Devon and in 2016 both Suffolk and York showed drops!