Why should I support the motion? Many mediocre ministers have held the libraries portfolio. Ed Vaizey is no different.
Yes, public libraries have rarely been well-served. But no other minister made such a fuss when in opposition, to do so little when in power. And no other minister has presided over so drastic a decline in the public library service. Publiclibrarynews.com estimates that in the current financial year alone, in other words the past six months, 364 libraries, buildings or mobiles, have closed, been transferred out of the public library system or are under threat. In the period of Mr Vaizey’s tenure of office, we have seen Somerset, Brent, Doncaster, Bolton, now Herefordshire and Lincolnshire in crisis…any one of these would have been enough to make any other minister intervene, but not the present incumbent.
But I don’t work in a public library.
Neither do the proposer or seconder of the motion. Many public librarians find themselves in positions where it is very difficult to speak out about what’s happening to the service. If the idea of a profession means anything at all, those of us in other sectors have a duty to come to their assistance. Local authority public libraries, along with national libraries, are the only ones open to every citizen, and free at the point of use.
The motion won’t have any effect. Mr Vaizey won’t resign
No, though we can hope. But just as the BMA’s vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt, and the teaching unions’, both the NUT and the NAHT, votes of no confidence in Michael Gove grabbed the headlines, we hope this will open up the debate about the future of our public library system.
Isn’t this a distraction? Surely we should sort out what we call ourselves before we worry about the wider world?
Library campaigners wonder why we’ve taken so long to discuss this. This is just what CILIP needs: something that shows that we can look beyond the navel-gazing of rebranding, and should we change to be ILPUK. not CILIP. It doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. The profession at large, those who use libraries and those who care for their future will judge us by our deeds, not our ‘brand’. Saturday will be our chance.