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Wading through the latest DCMS report makes me think of the old Nike slogan: Just Do It April 12, 2010

Posted by michaelpawlus in Uncategorized.
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I feel like it has been a million years since my last post so I do apologise.  In attempt to get back into a rhythm, I am going to jump into a subject that is a little outside of my depths and that is trying to understand the UK National Government’s relationship with community library service.

Recently, the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) released a document that I believe was meant to outline the libraries changing role in the community.  After the release of this document, two big criticisms emerged.  One was that the document is basically just a list of recommendations with no timetables or action plan.  The other was a criticism of the media for not covering the release of the document instead writing up stories that oversimplified the libraries current struggles.

To these criticisms I would say that in regards to the media, they did push out some horrible stories but covering the document itself would not have been newsworthy.  I have to agree with the first criticism and say that the document is basically a really soft list of vague, more-or-less commonsense ideas.  A list like that is not newsworthy but seeing the impact of implementing those ideas would be.

In the mos recent copy of Library & Information Update, another writer is lamenting how the recent media attention on libraries, in addition to being oversimplified and erroneous also failed to elicit input from actual librarians.  However, I think librarians failed to push their voices out to media outlets.  I think one of the big problems on this side of the Atlantic is that there is an over reliance on national programmes.

If one were to look through the list of 54 Proposals in the DCMS document, I think that out of Proposal 7 through to Proposal 44, which deal with ideas to be implemented mostly by the libraries themselves, 31 of them could be started today.  They could be implemented without the need for government money or oversight.  An example of some of these ideas would be create partnerships in the community, help to get users online and teach them to use online resources effectively, look for new funding avenues, marketing channels, and outreach opportunities.  When I look at this list, I agree that they are commonsense suggestions but when I hear complaints that the report doesn’t have enough timetables and action points all I can think is: Just Do It.  There actually are some pretty decent ideas in there so just run with them.  When you have some new found success based on implementing one of these new ideas, give that success a human interest angle and sell it to the media.  That is a story.  A list of ideas is not.

This idea of just going for it is not just aimed at the British libraries because the Americans need to do it too.  I have a whole different post that I will be doing soon about the crisis over there but at the end of the day when the money starts to dry up if the libraries are delivering a quality service that is meeting the needs of the community there will be an outcry.  If they are waiting from some guidance to come down from on high and in the meanwhile they are just doing the same things there will not be.  At the end of the day politicians want votes.  If closing libraries endangers their ability to get votes, then they are not going to do it.

It’s election time in the UK, a vision of what libraries could be after a three year review may not ensure the safety of libraries but a track record of showing that the library understands the needs of the community and has the ability to help meet them just may.  Anyways, like I say, I’m maybe a little over my head but it makes more sense to me anyways.

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1. Just Do It: Part II « Adventures in Librarianship - April 13, 2010

[…] Do It: Part II April 13, 2010 Posted by michaelpawlus in Uncategorized. trackback Yesterday I made a post about the response to the latest DCMS report.  I think I need a quick postscript/follow-up post to […]


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