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the CILIP Manifesto is a good step forward

19 Apr

CILIP has launched its new Manifesto – six priorities for the next government. You can view details of it on CILIP’s website, or click here to download the whole thing – it’s only a 4 page PDF.

A picture of CILIP's Manifesto

To avoid accusations of political bias, CILIP appears to have chosen to colour its Manifesto in the popular 'Tory Periwinkle'


The six priorities are

1. Make school libraries statutory

2. Promote and protect the rights of users within copyright law

3. Build a successful knowledge economy

4. Preserve the UK’s digital cultural heritage

5. Fund and enable the effective co-ordination of health information

6. Develop a set of library entitlements for public library users


Leaving aside the colour of the thing, I like this a lot. It is short, to the point, clearly laid out, and with basic information you can take in at a glance and more in-depth stuff too if you have time to read it. Here’s a quote:

“A copy of every book published in the UK is deposited at
the British Library and, by request, at other national
deposit libraries.This is not so with audio-visual or digital
material and much unique material has already been lost.
There are eight million websites in the UK domain but,
for example, no contemporary web records exist for the
death of Princess Diana or the unveiling of the Angel of
the North.”

It makes its point well, highlights the dichotomy of the traditional perceived role of the library and the one we actually have to serve now, and gives a solid and tangible example of what failings need to be addressed.

All six priorities are important, and the chances are one or more of them is relevant to either your work or your other professional activities – for me, the whole Preserve the UK’s digital cultural heritage business is fundamental to the LIFE-SHARE Project.

I like that there is are instructions and suggestions on how to use the document for lobbying and advocacy, including an email template to write to your MP, and details of how to go about contacting your local media. This is what a public and national library body should be doing – empowering its members to act, and providing the tools and the guidance to help them do so.

What I really like, though, is how widely CILIP has distributed this Manifesto. It’s gone to a LOT of people, including all parliamentary candidates. (There’s more than two-and-a-half thousand of them.) It has also been sent to political Party HQs, senior Information Professionals, and a press release has gone out. Much effort has been made to escape the echo chamber – this is not a Manifesto just for us to read among ourselves, but to communicate what we all say to each other to the wider country. I’ve thought for a while that libraries sometimes seem under-represented in popular culture – as well as all the funding cuts, the well-worn cliches, the closures etc, it doesn’t always feel like we’ve got enough fire-power to fight back in the public domain, via the media and so on. This is the first time CILIP has sent out a message to so many people (and so many potentially important, policy-forming people at that) and I really applaud them for it.

In other CILIP related news, the Diversity Group Conference 2010 has been announced: “An Inconvenient Truth: Race, Class and Libraries”. It takes place on Monday 14 June 2010 at CILIP HQ, and you can find details of the programme, prices, how to book etc on the Diversity Group’s web-pages. The talks look really good, and Bonnie Greer, no less, is providing the keynote. So check it out. I have a special set of circumstances this year which means I’ve used up each and every iota of leave and / or conferences-not-directly-related-to-my-9-to-5-job allowance for this cycle so will have to miss this, as well as Liver and Mash, and some other good looking conferences and a couple of events I was asked to speak at, which is sad times (although all in a good cause) – so I can’t go, but I wish I could. It’s an important issue, race in libraries; we seem to be a very un-diverse profession. It’s particularly noticeable in Leeds where I work in the UK – the population of the town has myriad ethnicities, as does the student population, but this doesn’t seem that well represented in the library staff. So if anyone reading this goes to the Diversity Group conference, I’d be interested in hearing what gets said…

- thewikiman

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