The UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) have just held their annual general meeting in London. At the meeting, they delivered a ringing majority vote in favour of a resolution submitted by CILIP member Andy Richardson “that CILIP should ‘actively oppose the “amateurisation” of the public library service by offering library buildings and contents to be run by the local community with little or no funding for professional or paid library staff.’ Members also voted on proposed increases to subscription rates for 2016.”
The immediate practical consequences of the vote are likely to be limited. As CILIP itself announced, “CILIP AGM resolutions are advisory; however, a majority vote in favour of a resolution means the Board will consider it carefully and ensure that it is reflected in CILIP’s ongoing advocacy and campaigning.” Nonetheless, this vote is one more strong protest against the UK government’s systematic policy of underfunding libraries and attempting to push them, at arm’s length, into the hands of local voluntary groups, despite a statutory obligation to maintain a proper library service.
Martyn Wade, Chair of the CILIP Board, said of the resolution: “Volunteers should be an asset. We should recognise the valuable skills, knowledge, enthusiasm, experience and fresh perspectives that volunteers can provide. But we must act when the quality and long-term sustainability of library services is at risk.”