Sunday, 6 February 2011

Get rid of the Public Library Priesthood

There's a great fuss at the moment about the closure of public libraries as spending cuts are imposed by central government. Much of the ire is misdirected.

People have stopped going to libraries because the book stock is poor. Libraries have instead tried to change their purpose, in effect setting themselves up as cyber-cafes for the general public. All this costs money. That money has come from the book stock funding. Get a grip people! The library is there to house books, not as a social security depot.

The librarians themselves are highly paid for what they do. Much of the process of purchasing, cataloging and labeling  is outsourced (even more expensive) to third-party profit making companies. Meanwhile self-publishing authors are locked out. The salary of one librarian could buy an awful lot of extra book at a branch library. In effect librarians have become a form of priesthood with elaborate rituals, but no great contribution to the process.

Let's get some barefoot librarians who will go out there and do the job of providing interesting books for the public.


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