Friday, October 29, 2010

Peurile [sic] and anonymous

That's us. Strange goings on chez Coates. The first comment here alerts our hero to this blog, though it seems to be an e-mail which the sender wishes to be kept private. No matter. Then Ashe (who is a fine one to condemn anonymity, we think) weighs in to denounce us as puerile. Remember your Latin, Ashe, it's from puer, n. a boy; that may help you spell it.

Are we puerile? Probably, but, as the Irish say, where's the harm? We like to think that to mock pomposity is salutary. No names, no pack-drill.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A busy day

While most of us have been out enjoying the late October sunshine, our hero has been busy. No Sunday dallying in the autumn leaves for him, oh no, the game is afoot.

Not one, not two but three posts came from his pen today. Read them if you wish. For us here at CoatesWatch the most interesting feature is the addition of a new category to our hero's extensive demonology, the Quackle, which he defines as a Quasi academic librarian [sic; the idiosyncratic use of upper case is as he gives it]

Tim's always had trouble understanding that librarians work in lots and lots of different places, as well as public libraries. Odd, though, that he should harbour this particular hatred for university librarians. We wonder if a sexual partner left him for one in his youth? CoatesWatch is a family publication, so has avoided speculation on our hero's private life, but if any readers can shed any light on this, e-mail

Friday, October 22, 2010

Too, too exciting

CoatesWatch is going to have a lie-down on the chaise longue with the smelling salts, the curtains closed and a wet handkerchief on our forehead. The excitement, my dears. It's too, too faint-making. Our hero has written a book! See here:

The endorsements are curious, though. A quotation from Neil Gaiman appears, as if in support of the book:

Libraries are our future—to close them would be a terrible, terrible mistake—it would be stealing from the future to pay for today, which is what got us into the mess we’re in now.”—Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and other award-winning fantasy and science fiction books, U.K.

In fact Neil made these remarks, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, on receiving CILIP's Carnegie Medal. CoatesWatch wonders if Neil knows that his words are being used by someone who argues that cuts 'should have come a long time ago' or that public libraries should be handed over to publishers.

New Grub Street branch library

We love our hero Tim. No mind but his could have come up with this observation on the controversial diktat from the Publishers Association, which seeks to sabotage public libraries' plans to lend e-books : 'it might not be a bad thing if this were to mean the end of the library world as we know it. A public library service run by publishers might be a lot better than the one we have now. Let's try it.'  Moreover, the man who delivered this crass statement was once his protegĂ©. His heart swells with paternal pride. 'That's my boy', says Tim.

Just as the 1930s Daily Mail proclaimed hurrah for the Blackshirts, so our hero cries hurrah for the PA. CoatesWatch is however a little nervous about the idea of a 'public library service run by publishers'. What might this look like?

  • the librarians will all take three hour drunken lunch breaks on expenses, paid for by the readers
  • the staff on enquiry desks will be recruited solely from the 'girls in pearls' whose pictures appear in Country Life
  • other positions wil be filled by unpaid interns and unpublished (and unpublishable) authors marking time
  • each library will only stock its own publishing house's titles

Readers seeking further detail are referred to George Gissing's New Grub Street (link to Project Gutenburg's free e-text, put that in your pipe and smoke it, Stephen Page), or to the excellent Ed Reardon's Week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Losing it

Alas, we begin to fear for our hero. Apparently public sector thieves are going to plunder his patrimony.
There's a book coming, and the saviour of public libraries seems to believe that thousands of useless pen pushers will enrich themselves at his expense. We're very excited to hear of the book, and hope for a signed copy.
Read the full horror here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where's that major announcement?

Forget the Chilean miners, the most exciting news event of the year was to be yesterday's 'major statement on the state of libraries in England and what needs to be done for them to survive and fill a role for future generations' which our hero was supposed to deliver to the Association of Independent Libraries (that's private subscription libraries to you and me) yesterday. CoatesWatch was near Burlington House yesterday, but missed the police cordons and mobs of hacks from the world's media, and Tim's blog remains silent.

We begin to wonder, did the event actually take place? Did it have any existence, except as a delusion in Tim's mind? Not for the first time, we start to fear for our hero's mental health. What will we do if the messiah of England's libraries 'loses it', in demotic parlance, and insists that he is really the heir to the Russian throne, spirited away from the firing squad in 1917?


Update at 9:03, Friday. We've found it, curiously, on SINTO's blog. Those with time on their hands can read the full text. We offer you this nugget, which will give you the flavour: 'So in these times of public spending cuts, what I say is that, in terms of the library service, they should have happened a long time ago'. These are the words, remember, of the greatest library campaigner of the modern era.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oop North

Oh aye, 'appen, our hero finds himself in Yorkshire, commenting on an interesting post on professionalism on the SINTO blog. CoatesWatch thinks he may have met his match. His curious analogy that for libraries to promote reading is like trying to sell petrol to people without cars has been ably demolished by one of the commenters. Watch out, Tim. They don't like southern elitism up there. You may find more of a welcome when you talk to the private libraries tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


We at Coates Watch wonder if our hero should not seek professional help about his obsession with the MLA. He has now devoted three consecutive posts to critiques of an organisation that, whatever its failings (and Coates Watch knows things about the MLA that would make your hair curl), is on the road to abolition. Is the MLA the main threat to public libraries? Hardly, it's an irrelevance.

Update, 12 October: James Christie, a frequent and, we have to say, intemperate commentator chez Coates has left another of his long and highly emotional screeds. He suggests that 'in the end, we all need to grow up a bit and discard our egos'. Coates Watch fears that if our hero takes this advice and discards his ego, there'll be nothing left.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Coates is starting to make our heads spin with his post-modern tricks. The Good Library Blog is ostensibly written by a cat, Perkins, but it is common knowledge that it is the voice of the world's greatest library campaigner. In his latest post, he adopts the persona of a 'regular (and distinguished) commentator' to praise himself. If this is bewildering for the reader, think what it must be doing to Tim's sanity. Fewer narrative voices, please, as they advise in creative writing classes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fight, fight, fight!

Berkshire Publishing have paid the electricity bill and our hero is back online. And how! He's chosen to pick a fight with Roy 'Hornblower' Clare, who runs the MLA, one of the quangos whose life is moving peacefully to its close.
CoatesWatch is tempted to have a wager on the outcome. The two have clashed before, notably in Swindongate. Can a humble bookseller defeat a rough tough old salt, the scent of rum on his breath and the blood of disobedient ratings on his knuckles? It has to be said, on the showings so far, that the navy has the best of the argument. We shall watch agog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Technical problems: the technical is political

Our hero is having technical problems. "Apologies to a number of people who have commented in the past few days. For some technical reason although the comments are there and ready, they are not appearing on the blog page. I'm sure this will be corrected as soon as possible".

This comes right above a discussion on privatising libraries in Suffolk in which Perkins (Mr Coates's feline alter-ego) and someone called Andy (Coulson?) wax lyrical about the liberating and lucrative possibilities of privatised libraries: 'Yes. This is really exciting,' comments "Andy", making obeisance before the effigy of Margaret Thatcher in his bedroom.
Interesting, too, that Coates's blog is out-sourced, being run for him by Berkshire Publishing; does this account for the technical problems? Who they, you may ask? It's unclear, except that they have nothing to do with the Royal County, being based in the USA. Have you heard of their Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History? No, neither have we.