Tuesday, March 29, 2016

UK public #libraries reports

The BBC today released a report on the state of the UK's public libraries, which identified the large number of closures (343 libraries and large numbers of professional posts) in the past 6 years. As well as releasing various stories (including this one which has quotes from my colleague Dr Briony Birdi, who teaches on our MA librarianship, rather than just having an MA, as quoted) they have made the data set available at https://github.com/BBC-Data-Unit/libraries
Although this isn't specifically about information literacy, the ongoing closure of profesionally-run UK public libraries and rise of volunteer libraries which are supposed to replace them has implications for IL. The volunteer libraries, however well meant, can not deliver the range of services to the whole community that you would expect from a professionally-run service, including development of information literacy for lifelong learning.
On 23 March the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport released a report for consultation: Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021  The consultation is open until 3 June at https://docs.google.com/a/culture.gov.uk/forms/d/1lGZV1u3bctGL-OA9MgFJyCTGckLOuBZ_uIZr_IjMeC0/viewform
I haven't looked at this closely yet, but apparently all you need in terms of public library staff are "well-trained, friendly people to help users to find what they want either independently or with support" which seems to leave out quite a lot of what a public librarians do at the moment. Digital literacy is mentioned at length, but information literacy is not (not even in the form of health literacy, in the section about health). Information literacy and skills in facilitating learning are not mentioned specifically in the section about workforce development (whereas it does mention both "commercial skills" and entrepreneurship: as an LIS educator I will also register the usual irritation at the usual implication that the skills listed are not already covered in librarianship courses).
Photo by Sheila Webber: face at the window of James Joyce House, Dublin, March 2016

1 comment:

JuliaC2 said...

Thanks for your comments and link to the Libraries Taskforce consultation. We definitely would want to include the issues you talk about, and would welcome your comments on how best to shape the priorities to make it/them clear. We've already had comments that 7 is too many, and equally that we haven't included areas. We also looked at many other strategies and reports (and of course the SCL Universal Offers) but there is clearly still work to be done.
I hope you fill out the consultation.