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.





  1. What a rant! Do you think he's feeling left out? He shows his absolute contempt for those of us who manage public library services. I know I spend a lot of time in Clerkenwell sipping hummus and dancing with Annie Mauger and 10,000 mothers on piles of burning literarv fiction screaming "Let the Library Assistants do all the work!", but I'm still worth the money, honest.

  2. Thank you Fred. Don't forget your other battle-cry, 'librarians shouldn't have to stamp out books'. Self-issue seems to have passed Tim by.

  3. Now he's saying there's a secret conspiracy against him. He can hear the voices talking about him.
    If it's a secret conspiracy, how does he know?

  4. In my never ending quest to try and get CoatesWatch to mature and stop name calling (I haven't read Lord of the Flies myself but I think CoatesWatch has about the same mental age as the main characters), I'm going to paste some of my own comment to the post you are referring to.


    "'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'"

    "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind,
    The answer is blowing in the wind."

    Having quoted the above I'm sure it wouldn't take a half-wit to sit down, make sense of all of this, and map out the road-map to the future. It's not that complex a field. If you play Humpty Dumpty's game we all know what became of him, and I'm not sure Dylan's prognosis is all that relevant either.

    From a library assistant perspective (thanks for the mention, which librarians never do, despite being probably three quarters of the library workforce :) the dog fights are surely a waste of energy.

    Anyway, a few basic expectations from a library assistant perspective:

    - I would like to see librarians in a role of advising the public on what libraries and library science can and could contribute to their (the public) lives - they are after all the appointed officers of the public to serve the public. This is especially relevant in these rapidly changing times technology and society wise. (E.g., figuratively speaking, half of our literature is to be found on the web nowadays - if the core of the mission of the libraries is a literate society, do librarians have no comment to make on this above and beyond the Peoples' Network - librarians are our _experts_ in this field, could we not expect more of an analysis than this?)

    - There should at least be noises coming from librarians at this point as to getting the DDC, LCSH, even BIC subject headings on the computers in front of the public. The tremendous resource of WorldCat as well. And there is more than that below the surface as well that the public might find useful and at virtually no cost in manufacture terms. In the age of the Knowledge Society, the public's free time is not just spent in the pub and doing the allotment. If need be librarians are going to have to put their quality literature down for 5 minutes, role up their sleeves, and go sort the business model out with the relevant bodies to get this organised. A business model that produces the wrong goods is something the public can expect professionals to sort out I think, and they will get the full backing of the public if need be.

  5. (cont.)

    - The strategy (inferred, which it can be) for community libraries seems to be to continue with the Victorian model of fiction/ non-fiction and a central library with community libraries being a mini-clone of the central, the community libraries not needing any particular level of expertise as they are managed from the centre. Whereas I would say that while this was the model for the libraries 150 years ago, after 150 years of reflection it does seem to me that our libraries are worth more than this, and worthy of some more research on the value that a library can be to a community, research that can be used to train and can be drawn on by a librarian/ library manager; there is an argument for these staff to be of the highest caliber, to be creative and with the highest level of qualification/ experience/ skills possible (I have argued in the past that library managers should in fact be paid more than One-Stop-Shop managers, not less as is current). I would expect after a 150 years of reflection on the value of the public libraries to society that librarians would at this point be saying to the public that a library with a librarian/ library manager in charge, working closely with the community and community leaders (councilors, etc.), is potentially one of the most cost effective ways of making a not insubstantial difference to a community. Instead often there are no qualified staff in a community library, with orders dictated centrally, resulting in a mass produced item that would be OK for a mass produced consumable of some sort, but not to serve the wide variety of communities in our towns and cities. Qualified staff with libraries providing an individualized service for their communities and a flourishing research base is what I would like to see librarians' vision consisting of.


    What is your vision for the future of the public libraries CoatesWatch?

  6. Well, blog owner, Tim hasn't seen fit to publish your comments yet. Wonder why? But he does that, quite often, and that's one of the reasons why this blog exists.
    It would be outside our terms of reference to debate with you here. Take your ideas to CILIP, to Voices for the Library, to the Library Campaign, where you'll find people to talk to.
    But do you understand that the sort of service that you want to see is precisely not the one that Tim Coates wants?
    When he attacks people who work in libraries, he attacks the libraries themselves. I'm surprised, with many library workers facing redundancy, that there has not been a bigger outcry against his attack on them. We've asked, several times now, where he was on 5th February. Where is his answer?
    He may be sincere, he may not be. The fact is, he is doing Vaizey's work for him.

  7. "I abhore anonymous attacks on anyone, and I believe that everyone should have the right to their opinion. I have absolutely no hesitation in condeming the kind of behaviour that you describe. If someone thinks you're an idiot they should have the courage to put their name to it, or to say it direct to your face. Anonymous comments are meaningless, although I can fully understand why they would be distressing or aggravating; I don't like them much myself. I hope that's clear condemnation enough?" so wrote Phil Bradley in a comment on the Good Library Blog. Couldb't be clearer could he? But I have my suspicions: so much of the content of his comments (e.g. the false allegation that Tim has never revealed what he was doing on Feb 5th)and his sarcastic language
    mirrors that on Coates Watch. A double bluff?

  8. False allegations about 5th Feb? It's only today, a week on, that the Good Library Blog could be bothered to mention it, and that only in a reply to a comment. Did he do anything to help on the day, or to build for it beforehand? Absolutely not, and you can see the evidence of that, or the evidence of its absence on his blog. Only the most important mobilisation on libraries since the 1980s and the foremost library campaigner of our generation was where? Nowhere!
    As for the idea that we might be Phil Bradley in disguise, really!

  9. False allegation? "I went round my local libraries on Saturday, which a week before appear to have been reprieved from closure, and then spent much of the day and night and most of the next, working on the figures for Somerset. OK? I have also done my fair share of radio talks. The best was the one for radio Sheffield, not for what I said, but because of what the bloke after me said." Good Library Blog Feb 8th.
    Not particularly observant are we Coates Watch/Phil?

  10. No, Miles, I think you're wrong here. I'm looking at the blog now. There's a post on 29th Jan on Somerset, then one on 7th Feb on Council Central Service Charges, then one on 10th Fen entitled Books and public libraries. No post at all on 8th Feb, and the quote you give is from a comment made at February 12, 2011 10:09 PM.
    Perkins has a history of falsifying and supressing comments. I do hope you have not become a victim

  11. No Brad - you are wrong, have another look: "Mr Dutt, I don't know quite the reason for your question (where I do understand and am grateful for James' concern which is not misplaced). I went round my local libraries on Saturday, which a week before appear to have been reprieved from closure, and then spent much of the day and night and most of the next, working on the figures for Somerset. OK? I have also done my fair share of radio talks. The best was the one for radio Sheffield, not for what I said, but because of what the bloke after me said.

    Posted by: perkins at February 8, 2011 10:18 PM"

    Pure coincidence that Coates Watch and Phil Bradley have made the same mistaken allegation? Blind watchmen!

  12. So, for the biggest mobilisation of people in support of libraries of our lifetimes, your man said nothing before or on the day, either on his blog, or on his two Twitter accounts, until prompted by one of his cronies deep in the comments on another post three days later.
    And this is the world's greatest library campaigner? Or is he no longer a campiagner? We note the use of the word strategist. Perhaps the c-word stood in the way of the consultancies?
    It's absolutely clear who owes whom an apology here. Tim owes the library world, by which we mean those who use and care for public libraries, an apology for his outburst above.

  13. Blog Owner, the GLB is ant-librarian and pretty anti-public servant per se. it is pro Eric Pickles.

    Need I go on?