Dear Helen Drakard,
First of all congratulations to you on becoming Executive Officer for the Society of Chief Librarians. I spotted in the SCL press release that you started in the library service here in Lincolnshire, and hope you have good memories of your time there.
I was Assistant Director, Cultural Services for Lincolnshire County Council at the time you were joining the service. There is no reason why you should remember me, though, as the library service was only one of my responsibilities. I left the County Council in 2003, as I wanted to do something different and help people more vulnerable than myself. I worked at Lincoln College supporting people with learning difficulties, and obtained a certificate which allowed me to help and teach literacy. I am now retired.
I have been heavily involved with trying to stop the dismemberment of the library service, here in Lincolnshire, since I learned what was going on in June 2013. I have written numerous papers, to LCC, to the local MPS, to both Secretaries of State, and to the Judicial Review which is to take place on 8th and 9th July. I am an active member of the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, whose committee members have asked me to write to you.
What I have been surprised at is the apparent lack of comment and involvement by senior librarians across the country, and in particular CILIP and SCL. Now I could easily have missed something, but I am kept in touch through national contacts with what is happening elsewhere. I therefore wonder if, in your new role you could encourage statements from SCL and/or colleagues individually to express dismay at what is happening here and all over the country? Also, I suggest your group could ask for intervention by the new SoS ? It is all well and good his predecessor preferring to await the result of our JR before being minded to act. Meanwhile actions are being taken by authorities which will be difficult to undo.
We are close to a General Election and I know MPs have eyes on this already. There is no better time for SCL to start pushing actively the importance of accessible and properly staffed libraries in society. Library closures or their transfer in large numbers to volunteers are a vote loser, especially on the scale we are seeing here in Lincolnshire. I wonder how many SCL members have put forward submissions to the Sieghart Review ? Where is the pressure being brought to bear?
I know these are very difficult, and to some extent different, times to the ones I experienced, but I would like to see and hear more from people like yourself who occupy roles of influence.
In case you don’t know what has been going on here, these are a couple of links you might like to see;
Libraries in Lincolnshire-the story so far
Volunteering to run libraries is a mistake, say protesters
I do realise you will have many issues to deal with, but the loss of chartered librarians and frontline staff on the scale that is hitting our service in Lincolnshire, must surely come top of the SCL list? Your help in making this one of their priorities would be greatly welcomed.
I look forward to your response to these concerns. However you choose to take this forward, I wish you every success in your new role.
Update yourself on the Lincolnshire Campaign:
Click here to read The Save Lincolnshire Libraries Story so Far…
(1) #Lobby4Libraries – read about our day in Westminster and visit to No 10 Downing Street.
(2) FULL JUDICIAL REVIEW TO GO AHEAD Lincolnshire: Full Judicial Review of Library Service to go ahead The judge did not restrict the grounds of challenge, and therefore the 4 grounds will be considered by the High Court when the case is heard.
(3) LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE A former Assistant Director at Lincolnshire County Council has written to The Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to formally request that she intervene and order an urgent inquiry into the changes being made by the County Council to the Lincolnshire library service. Update, letter now sent to Sajid Javid, Maria Miller’s replacement.
(4) Click here to read about the day when Helen Goodman MP (Shadow Minister for Libraries) visited campaigners at Ermine Library, 15 April.
(5) Click here to read extensive press coverage of our #BigLibraryMarch in September 2013
(6) Our growing page of comments from communities taking the volunteer library route https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/2014/02/10/community-groups-give-real-reason-for-saving-libraries/
(7) The Consultation – Click here to open the full PDF of the consultation report where people completely condemn the council’s plans and their consultation: SHU-Libraries-Consultation-Final-Report-31-October-2013 (2). Click here to read: Our response to the consultation findings