There is increasing awareness in the public arena of the growing threat to public libraries, through the fantastic work being done by the Voices for the Library and by young professionals like Johanna Anderson and her Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries Added to this is the slower and less visible erosion of school library provision across the country, as described by Caroline Roche on the campaign.CILIP communities blog.
CILIP also reported a couple of weeks ago that the Government consultation paper ‘Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution’, while a welcome focus on information management, missed out on consideration of the role of external content in the health service:
“...the importance of information to clinical practice, medical education and Continuous Professional Development by NHS staff, and the needs of research are not given sufficient coverage.”
Overall the picture is not a happy one. Widespread misunderstanding &/or ignorance exists of the vital role that librarians and information professionals of all types play in ‘making sense’ of the information overload that is widely accepted to affect many people.
Further closures of public and school libraries could deprive many of the most needy groups in society of access to information. This loss is occurring at just that time in history where the internet and social media are making information literacy vital to success; success in work but also in life, in education, in getting a job, in claiming benefits, and so on across an ever increasing spectrum.
What will this country look like in 5 or 10 years time? What will it be like if there are children growing up without access to a library of any kind, GP Consortia instead of PCT’s, again without librarian support to give them the medical evidence on which to base practice, and unemployed and disadvantaged people with no one to help them get online?
It doesn’t sound like a country to be proud of. Blaming the public, or anyone else, for this state of ignorance won’t help resolve the problem, however. If we are to avoid this situation becoming reality then all librarians, information professionals, knowledge managers – whatever we call ourselves – have to band together and reach out to the public and the government and make the case for librarianship.
- Nicola Franklin