Monday, August 8, 2011

Private fears in public places

You'd think, with experience of the disasters of rail, gas and water privatisation, that privatising libraries would be a non-starter, even for this government. Oh no. What is interesting here is that, after a long period of silence, Tim has found his voice again, speaking out about how mean library campaigners are to LSSI, the US private equity company that has now taken over a fifth of the land of the free's public library services and wants to expand over here. LSSI's British operation (which intriguingly shares a London office address with the Sue Hill employment agency) has been making overtures to several British library authorities, hoping for easy pickings.

Tim's post is all about how opposition to LSSI is based on xenophobia, ignoring the fact that a lot of Americans oppose them too. It represents a volte-face, for not so long ago Tim was saying that privatisation would not work, 'there is no profit in it for anybody and there is no income because it has to be a free service.' Croydon Advertiser, Friday, June 10, 2011

The question for Coates Watch is this: is Tim's change of position on library privatisation real? In which case what has happened to change his mind? Or, did he always believe in it, but thought it politic to keep his thoughts to himself until now?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Farewell to Jolly Jack Tar

Tim's old chum Roy Clare is off to New Zealand. Poor Kiwis, first the Christchurch earthquake, now this.

A little bird has forwarded us an e-mail Tim sent to the great and good, seventy-three of them, no less, in which, fighting back his tears, he demands that Roy be refused leave to travel until a parliamentary inquiry takes place into the MLA and the DCMS.

Tim has an uncanny instinct for aiming at the wrong target. What do library campaigners want from Parliament? A moratorium on cuts and closures? Teeth for the Public Libraries and Museums Act? Hunt and Vaizey called to account? According to Tim, none of the above, we want inquiries into an MLA press release. Of course we do. In pubs up and down the country, we speak of little else.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shaun Bailey's back office

One cannot fail to notice how both Eric Pickles and Tim bang on about their back offices at every opportunity. There is a PhD waiting to be written about this obsession, both from the psychoanalytic point of view, retardation at the anal phase, and a reception studies approach, tracing the phrase from its origins in an airport-bookstall management book to its use by the government to justify their wreckage of public services.
Up popped Shaun Bailey, Cameron's anointed evangelist for the Big Society, or BS as it is popularly known, on the Today programme on Wednesday morning. He ranted against libraries, and those who work
in them. Though he stopped short of calling us all Russians with snow on our boots, his animus against librarians had a very Coatesian feel. However, if this post is to be believed, he seems to have failed to apply these principles to his own charity, My Generation:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vanity publishing

The Good Library Blog has a curious approach to the blog medium. You can search slabs of text for hours for a hyperlink, whether to evidence (hard, isn't it to use the word evidence anywhere near the GLB?) of an assertion or to an organisation Tim is praising or, more likely, disparaging for having failed to recognise his god-like genius. There's no comments feed and you could grow a beard waiting for comments to be approved. Maybe the blogging platform offered by his hosts, that household name in British, sorry US, publishing, the Berkshire Publishing Group (pronounced, no doubt, incorrectly, as the Americans will insist on doing) doesn't do such fripperies.

Odd, too, is his tendency to take a comment on one post and turn it into a whole new post, often without attribution. It's as if the Daily Telegraph were to make up the front page of today's edition using the content from the letters page of the day before. Stranger even than this is the latest effort. Almost all the post is taken, with no attribution, from a report of a Picklesian (Pickled?) rant about the 'back-office' from the report in the Kilburn Times, apart from a couple of lines at the end.

Talk to a librarian, Tim. They could tell you something about the ethics of blogging, about the importance of acknowledging one's sources, and about intellectual property. And save posts like this for the (s)crapbook.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tim warns of the red menance

Before he deletes it and tries to pretend he never said it, here's a screenshot



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sheffield revisited

Remember the Sheffield debate, organised by SINTO? Our Tim, as we feel we must call him, now we know of his Yorkshire roots, was to appear on a panel with library campaigners to discuss the way forward.
It never happened. All the speakers, we were told, Tim included, agreed that it was not the right time for such a debate.
Now he says it was the others who withdrew, in fear. Not what was said at the time. We think that Tim might now have cause to feel a little, if not scared, at least apprehensive, of what will happen when this news gets out.
In case you'd forgotten, he's a great man for what he calls his reputation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Der Zauberlehrling

Tim has let the apprentice loose with an incoherent attack on CILIP. Remember your Goethe; this is unlikely to end well.

'I learnt librarianship by trial and error in a rare books library with a copy of AACR2!'. Rare books librarianship requires a very particular set of skills, and one fears for scholars of the future if they have to try to disentangle the cataloguing errors made by during the apprentice's learning. What other lessons were learnt by the same empirical method one wonders? Don't stub your cigarettes out on the incunables?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras will soon be with us. We were thinking of throwing a party. For some reason a champagne and hummus theme came to mind. Do come

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unintended consequences

Tim's borderline-obsessive hatred of CILIP seems to have be having the opposite effect to that intended. See here, where it seems that he has convinced someone who had not yet joined that he should.

We hold no brief for CILIP, indeed their Vice-President has gone to some, occasionally intemperate, lengths to repudiate us: It was the only Valentine we had.

Nevertheless, we do think that the organisation might react in stronger terms to Tim's attempts to dictate, from outside the profession, how it should organise itself. If we were to decide that the Booksellers' Association had lost its way, and pontificate on how it should improve itself, we imagine we would be sent away with several fleas in our ears. Yet is is apparently entirely reasonable for Tim, and the quisling he has gathered to his bosom, to tell librarians what to do. Furthermore, he continues to fall into the vulgar error that the membership of CILIP consists only of professionally qualified public librarians. Over the years, many people have pointed out to him how much of a misconception this is, but his ears are stopped.

Is librarianship a profession? We think so; it is certainly more of a profession than being a travelling seller of patent medicines to Tory councillors.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

By their friends shall ye know them part 2

To be expected:

According to Wikipedia, Conservative Home 'aims to represent UK grassroots Conservative opinion'. CoatesWatch reads that as a polite way to describe those who, in earlier generations, supported the League of Empire Loyalists or the Monday Club, those who believe that Winston and Maggie are not gone but sleep under a mountain and will wake in a hundred years time to lead them to purge the nation of trade unionists, people with dark skins and anyone who doesn't read the Express, Mail or Telegraph.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

That's not what we thought it was called



Stop press: a CILIP announcement says that it's cancelled, because all the speakers have withdrawn. There's no statement on the organisers' blog, SINTOblog, but a short announcement on SINTO's events page.

And another update, 22nd February: SINTO have now published a statement: They sound miffed.


Monday, February 14, 2011

I am (not) Spartacus

There seems to have been no small furore over our identity, a reverse Spartacus, if you like, with each member of the crowd shouting out. 'I am not Spartacus'. If it helps, we're happy to say that all the theories we've seen are wrong.

Some points though, particularly on the discussion on Phil Bradley's blog (note Phil, that we bear you no ill will and will honour the usual conventions of citing a blog when we talk about're free not to, of course, though we think it diminishes you):

  • We're not stalkers. We have no interest in Tim's private life, indeed the idea rather revolts us. Everything we write about is in the public domain
  • We're part of an honourable internet tradition. If there was an inspiration for this blog, it was perhaps AaronovitchWatch, which chronicles the rightwards journey of Dave Aaronovitch, son of the rather good Communist economist who, having taken Murdoch's shilling, moved rapidly to the right and took to writing a contrarian column in the Times. You'll find many other sites in the same mould, usually around someone with a particularly high, and perhaps unjustified, view of themselves
  • And, as for Gareth Osler's suggestion that we're the BNP, after we'd picked ourselves up from the floor, we thought we should mention that Tim is, as far as we know, neither Jewish, nor black, not Muslim....and we can write English unlike knuckle-dragging racists.
  • Do we indulge in ad hominem arguments? Perhaps, but this is politics, and it is a dirty business. TC is not known for fighting according to Queensbury rules
  • We don't particularly care if people follow or unfollow us. We're going to keep doing this so long as libraries need saving, and Tim keeps trying to disrupt the struggle to do so
  • Tim has to be understood politically. He represents a right-wing 'libertarian' point of view. It hates people who work, and believes in managerialism, in the power of the 'consumer' and the market. It is profoundly reactionary

We made an offer to Phil today. We repeat it here: if he can obtain a binding commitment from Tim to stop attacking library workers, we'll pack up and go home. If he doesn't someone needs to speak up for people who will lose their jobs and services when a council pays Tim a fat fee. We think back to the miners' struggle of the 1980s: which side are you on, we used to sing.

A Valentine

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Does Tim love Ed Vaizey,
And Cameron too?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

By their friends shall ye know them

We were moved, following some of yesterday's discussions, to investigate the murky world of our man's Twitter accounts. There are two, for some reason:  @GoodLibraryBlog, which first tweeted on 15th October (remember that, the day the great Library Alliance, that has played such a prominent part in recent campaigns was launched) and has managed a total of three tweets in four months,  and @GoodLibraries, first tweeted on 8th February, racing ahead with four lifetime tweets.















This is who @GoodLibraryBlog has chosen to follow. From the screenshot below, you will see that Ed Vaizey seems not to have realised he's in government yet (we knew Tories can be slow on the uptake but really) and that he also follows Richard D North, the neo-con who made such an ass of himself on You and Yours. When one follows so few people, it has to be read as a declaration of one's sympathies.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nurse! The screens!

Tim clearly hasn't been taking his medication. The latest offering at the Good Library Blog is a spittle-flecked rant against CILIP and against librarians as a species, with a few side-swipes at the "literacy industry' who, according to Tim, swill champagne and hummus at parties in Clerkenwell and Wandsworth.

One doubts, somehow, that someone who was once, as he never tires of reminding us, the MD of Waterstones, is a stranger to champagne; senior management in the bookselling industry are not known for spartan fare when organising the endless dinners, conferences, launches and receptions without which business would grind to a halt. What is the matter, Tim? DId your invitation get lost in the post? CoatesWatch would refuse to attend any party where they serve champagne to wash down hummus; so terribly non-U, and actually rather disgusting.

Tim usually has the common-sense to keep his more extreme views to himself, so it's interesting to speculate as to why he chooses this particular moment to let the mask slip. Sidelined, both in the media and by the tremendous support for the actions of 5th February, in which he played no part whatsoever, perhaps he feels it is time to make his mark. A more Machiavellian interpretation, given that his intention seems to be to split the developing movement to #savelibraries, could be that he's in the pay of Vaizey and Cameron—but only conspiracy theorists would think that.




Thursday, February 10, 2011

Caption competition

Tim Coates and John Coles.jpg

Entries to We have to say, whoever tidied those shelves didn't know what they were at. Volunteers?


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coates on film

Just in time for the BAFTAs and Oscars, Tim takes his first steps towards stardom. On YouTube or, as one of his acolytes put it, U-Tube, he may be seen holding forth to the good people of Somerset.

We turned to our film studies expert, Professor Jean-Luc Bergman-Allen, of the University of Loamshire. 'What is interesting', he told us, 'is how the director here subverts traditional cinematic values of form and narrative structure and instead gives us work that, transcending its technical shortcomings, makes us ask the question, what is life and, if there are another 33 minutes of this stuff to sit through, is it worth living? In such a way, he gives us a Coates who is both Coates, and not-Coates, self and other, and it is in the dialectical relationship of these that we find such slight resolution that the work offers at the end. The crass fetishisation of the book leads us to speculate about the place of that object in the subject's infantile sexual awakening and, pace Lacan and Žižek, whether a radical hermeneutics of the library might not be an achievable project. More Pernod? Don't mind if I do.'

Sunday, February 6, 2011

5th February

What a day! Those who accuse CoatesWatch of being negative should have seen our happy smiling faces as we followed the press coverage, the read-ins and shhh-ins, the Twitter stream at #savelibraries and the Facebook activity, and the thousands of people who, even if there was no organised event, went to their local library to borrow books, use the services and show their support. We took part, locally and in modest ways.

One question: where in all this was the world's leading library campaigner? There is no evidence we can see that he took part in anything at all. The only change we can see is that the Good Library Blog now displays a besotted tribute from Boyd Tonkin, describing our hero as a 'modernising four-star general' and a 'key strategist'. We would be wary of these epithets. For this government, as for the last, to 'modernise' something is to close it down.

The description of him as a general reminds us of the story of the private fleeing the battle front in World War I? Eventually, panting, he stops for a rest. 'What's the matter with you, man?' booms a voice. 'Don't you salute when you see a general?' 'Blimey' replies the soldier, 'I didn't know I'd run that far'.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

As you were

First of all, he's back:

Secondly,'it is unlikely that there is a need to close a library anywhere for financial reasons in order to meet the requirements of deficit recovery'. Oh well, that's all right, then. Tim has spoken.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

From campaigner to expert

We thought it had been too quiet. In yesterday's This is Somerset we learn that an 'internationally recognised library expert' will be visiting the county tomorrow. Guess who?
Tim used to call himself a campaigner. When and why did he change to being an expert?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where is he?

The world is abuzz with libraries; one cannot switch on the radio or television without the subject coming up. So where, we feel entitled to ask, is our hero? Awfully quiet. Is he cooking something up with Eric Pickles and Boris Johnson? We imagine them as the three witches on a blasted heath, stirring a pot containing the bones and internal organs of librarians made redundant.

So why has he left us in our hour of need? We're at a loss, and don't know what to think. Should we sack the librarians and send in the volunteers? Should we hand it all over to Johnny Laing, as they did in Hounslow? Should we all become trusts? It worked so well for hospitals, after all. Tell us, Tim. We think the world should know.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In a Pickle

Oh dear. It seems as if Tim has fallen under the spell of Eric, the silver-tongued seducer from Keighley. If libraries can be run satisfactorily at 30% of their current cost, as Eric and Tim claim, could Eric function with 30% fewer of his chins?


























Picture from Wikimedia Commons

CoatesWatch: we ask the questions on the nation's lips.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I want to get you in my tent

Thus sang Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band all those years ago. The hoarier members of CoatesWatch were reminded of this when we saw an event, an Executive Briefing no less,  in Sheffield entitled Library campaigns. Are we all inside the tent?. Sadly it seems to be a reference to the euphemistic metaphor much used by the CIA about foreign right-wing dictators backed by the USA, covertly or overtly. Anyone who questioned the wisdom of supporting fascist low-life would be replied to either thus, 'better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in', or 'he may be a fascist son-of-a-bitch, but he's our fascist son-of-a-bitch'. Tim appears on the bill. We would not dream of suggesting that he could ever be an embarassing ally, or insanitary in any sense.

The pricing is odd as well. The ordinary public get in gratis, but practicing [sic] librarians have to pay £30. This reminds us of those louche night-clubs that offer free admission for girls, though we hope SINTO do not have the same motives. It's a long way off, but the Yorkshire chapter of CoatesWatch have the date in our diaries. Some of the rest of the team may well find this vaut le voyage, as the Michelin guides say.