Tuesday 31 December 2013

Lambeth Libraries and RFID (or is it?)

Recently I tweeted Mick Fortune about what initially appeared to be an official notification of a 'Framework Agreement' relating to Lambeth Libraries, Bibliotheca and the installation of RFID. What had really caught my attention was the mention of 'My Community', a software product developed by Bibliotheca to allow access to other council services through libraries, basically a way of electronically sharing and co-locating services.

Mick very quickly blogged about this and raised three main concerns;

1. Are Councils such as Lambeth using 'Framework Agreements' properly and are the agreements themselves fit for purpose?
2. Are Lambeth, and any other Councils involved in procuring similar services, correctly adhering to the relevant guidelines and is using a 'waiver' anti-competitive?
3. 'My Community' is a propriety software developed to deliver access to other services and not an advanced version of library RFID. So, should councils be using library budgets to install it?

"but the way in which RFID is used to deliver library services has absolutely nothing to do with how “My Community” delivers other services."

Mick has made it very clear that he is not calling into question the legality of this agreement but is only suggesting that it may be stretching the guidelines, he also questions the use of library budgets to fund this type of application and why the 'profession' seems so intent on its own destruction?

"A more cynical person might suggest that using the library budget and an inappropriate library framework agreement to buy services that many believe will eventually bring about the destruction of the library service is the ultimate irony."

My take on all this is briefly summed up in the comment I left on Mick's site;

My knowledge of the technology mentioned is very limited but i do know from talking to library staff/union members up and down the country that the vast majority of them primarily see self-serve as a way of cutting jobs. Obviously the other way to cut jobs is to create ‘hubs’ which co-locate depts/services with libraries and to either re-train library staff to take on other functions or to buy in software like ‘My Community’, or both. From the hundreds of public library consultations I’ve looked at the majority of users didn’t ask for these ‘innovations’ either, which raises some very serious professional and ethical issues.
Bibliotecha are even suggesting that councils, such as Lincolnshire CC, adopt staff-less libraries with swipe card lobbies containing only self-serve kiosks!!!
As you yourself allude to Mick the ‘profession’ seems to have a death wish.

It's also worth reading the other comments posted on his site, some of which raise similar concerns to those initially flagged up by Mick himself.



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