Tag Archives: Freedom of Information

National Libraries Day – why did some authorities refuse to celebrate?

Residents in Kent resorted to doing their own thing to support National Libraries Day,

Earlier this month library authorities and library users celebrated the very first National Libraries Day.  Events took place across the country and it was great to hear so many people went out and celebrated their local library service (some photos are available here).  The extent of the celebrations showed that there is still a lot of support out there for the public library service, despite claims of its demise and irrelevance.  Amidst a background of library closures, it was great to see so many people and organisations come together in celebration.

However,whilst many authorities across the country threw their support behind National Libraries Day, some were reluctant to join in the celebrations.  One of several councils who refused to support the event was Kent.  What made this particularly concerning was that not only is Kent one of the largest authorities in the country, it is also headed by the Secretary for the Society of Chief Librarians – one of the supporters of the event.

In advance of the event, Voices for the Library lodged a Freedom of Information request to find out why the authority refused to put on any events under the National Libraries Day banner, or to even mention it on their website or Facebook Page.  The following was disclosed as a result of the request:

 

As well as the above information, we also received a copy of the now infamous staff briefing distributed across the county in advance of National Libraries Day:

 

KCC National Libraries Day staff briefing

As an organisation that seeks to highlight the value of libraries and librarians, we are deeply concerned about the actions taken in Kent.  National Libraries Day is an annual national initiative created to celebrate the vital contribution libraries make in our communities, enriching our society and providing the tools to help individuals prosper.  As a result we were very disappointed to learn that Kent and a number of other authorities including Gloucestershire, Croydon and Kensington and Chelsea (amongst others) refused to encourage the celebrations.  We hope next year that those authorities that did fail to participate this year will have a change of heart in 2013.  After all, if we can’t celebrate and promote library services on National Libraries Day, when can we celebrate them?