Sunday, 13 October 2013

Speak up for Libraries Conference 23/11/13; Resisting, Improving and Promoting!

Public Libraries and library staff across the UK are doing great and crucial work..

We work with local communities to improve literacy levels, we help bridge the 'digital divide'; helping those who need assistance with online information and benefits, we work with schools/nurseries/playgroups to support the curriculum and to foster lifelong learning, in fact we are a crucial public service and are seen by many as a lifeline, especially those who are socially, geographically and economically disadvantaged and isolated.

But all this brilliant and crucial work we do is done under severe pressure brought about by savage local government cuts.

Library services have been hollowed out, 3000+ jobs gone, 500-600+ libraries closed or taken out of public control, many specialist staff with decades of invaluable local and professional knowledge lost, staff are often being forced to work on their own or at or below minimum staffing levels, staff are being forced to take on extra work and duties often linked to co-location, shared services, short staffing and deprofessionalisation, staff are being forced to operate with and conform to often conflicting service delivery models (privatisation, commercialisation etc), vital outreach work has been curtailed etc etc etc. for more detail on the cuts to public libraries see https://www.unison.org.uk/upload/sharepoint/On%20line%20Catalogue/21589.pdf

And what effect is all this having on users? For those who see their local library closed it can be devastating and there are many more who manage to save the building but have a gun put to their heads and told "run your library or we'll close it", but this is leading to a two-tier and fragmented service, many are not happy doing it but don't see any other choice. Many more are marching and protesting against the cuts, setting up friends and campaign groups and mounting legal challenges. And this is why 'Speak up for Libraries' is crucial, SUFL brings together campaigners, users, union members and library professionals, not only to fight to save library services but also to improve and promote them.

This years conference is a not to be missed one, it's very unlikely that you are ever going to have the chance to listen to and question a line up like this;

  • Yinnon Ezra, Advisor for Libraries at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
  • Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries at Arts Council England (ACE)
  • Janene Cox, President, The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL)
  • Alan Gibbons, author and founder of Campaign for the Book
  • Phil Bradley, President, the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP)
  • Heather Wakefield, Head of Local Government, UNISON
  • Steve Davies, Lecturer in Social Sciences, University of Cardiff

So get booking, see https://speakupforlibraries.eventbrite.co.uk/

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