There's a very depressing article in The Bookseller which should be read: Lewisham library volunteers on workfare scheme. This is wrong on so many levels I really don't know where to start. The idea of a volunteer is rather in the word itself I would have thought. But apparently not. The “workfare” scheme will cancel peoples benefit payments unless they undertake the work. This is doublespeak that even George Orwell never even considered. Either a job is there - in which case it should be made available to a properly qualified person to apply for, or it's not there, in which case you shouldn't be able to force someone to do it. At a time when an increasingly number of information professionals are losing their jobs this bunch of idiots seem to think that it's a good idea to reduce the opportunities for them to get one. How does that ever make any kind of financial sense, unless you've got such a twisted mind that your fiscal policy works best if you have people out of work, and force them to do jobs that otherwise they'd get paid for. Either that, or you're a supporter of the insane mob we've currently got in power. But apparently, they're not volunteering as such “These placement are young people who have no or little experience, and this is not just work experience, it is also training" says Darren Taylor, c.e.o. Of Eco, the company who have taken control of Sydenham Library, when it was taken out of local authority control. So we've now got a private company making money - the money that the tax payers are paying for a service that they're not actually getting any longer - out of people who are being given no option but to work or starve. How is this right? How is this proper? How is this just?
Moreover - who is training thse people, and what exactly are they being trained to do? I have absolutely no idea, and I suspect that no-one else does either - including the poor souls caught up in this Orwellian nightmare of doublethink. I don't know about you - but if I was being forced into doing a job, I probably wouldn't be too keen on continuing it later on. Most people that I know work in libraries because they want to work in a library - they enjoy dealing with people, helping and assisting them. You can't force or train people into that attitude. This isn't going to help anyone - not the young people themselves, the library members, the taxpayers - the only people that it's going to help are the companies that are making the money.
This has been an entirely insane week in the world of librarianship, with this nonsense following on hard from the ridiculous 'report' produced by the Arts Council, which is a total disgrace. Not for one moment does their report think to question the concept of 'community' run libraries. More double speak as well... any public library is *already* a community library - because it is in a community and for a community. These apologies for libraries either neither 'community' or 'library'. They are a second rate, second grade step towards the obliteration of the library service itself. I would describe the report as a 'joke' but there's really nothing even vaguely humourous in it. It's been designed for one thing, and one thing only as far as I can see - an opportunity for politicians (both local and national) to say 'See? Told you so.' This report will do nothing to propogate libraries - it will do the exact opposite. It is shameful and a disgrace.