Saturday, November 20, 2010


It's not often you'll hear this from us, but, when it comes to the issue of CIPFA statistics, Tim has a point. Why are the statistics of a publicly-funded service only available on subscription? So much for open data. The fact that this has been the case for many years doesn't excuse it at all.

Could this data, contributed to by every library authority and, indirectly, by library user in the country, be liberated from behind the accountants' paywall? As this goverment seeks to remove more and more services from public control, it seems unlikely. The Guardian recently exposed the huge amounts of public money being creamed off by the private sector, Capita and Ipsos Mori being the leaders in sneaking nice little earners out of public services. We know that US privateers LSSI are sniffing at British library services, and that Civica already have a foothold in public libraries through the SELMS consortium.

The trouble is that Tim has never been explicit in saying that he opposes privatisation. In fact, in many of his dicta, he comes close to arguing that hoary old Thatcherite lie that the private sector would reinvigorate public libraries; just the way it did the railways and the utility companies, we suppose?

A postscript: perhaps we were too hasty. It seems from the comments he makes on his own post that he does have access to the full CIPFA dataset, and that he uses these to support his usual prejudice that public libraries are full of overpaid, underworked drones. Coma and work on an issue desk sometime, Tim.

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