What did I expect? My view of CILIP Council, and of the LA before it, is strongly coloured by Edward Dudley’s sketches, latterly appearing under as his Clip Board column. Edward’s Runyonesque prose evoked a world of Determined Ladies and Retired Layabouts. I was particularly disappointed that the toast to Peace and Progress, drunk, according to Edward, in warm sherry, seems to have been abandoned. It could have been worse—elements sympathetic to Vaizey could have replaced it with one to War and Reaction. Latterly there was a Council blog, rain chiefly by Isabel Hood as I recall, but that seems to have vanished in the website reorganisation. The heady atmosphere of CILIP 2.0 seems a long time ago now. [NB: this link, to Phil Bradley's blog, contains some material highly critical of Bob McKee, who, in a great loss to the profession, died in 2010. It was certainly not my intention to revive Phil's criticisms. My point was to illustrate how little progress we have made towards the goal, which Bob supported, of openness in the way we do our business. For other accounts of the CILIP 2.0 meeting see http://www.joeyanne.co.uk/2009/04/27/cilip-20-open-session/ and I suppose I must mention http://www.roper.org.uk/tr/2009/04/cilip-20-and-subversion.html]
If this meeting is any guide, we do conduct an awful lot of our business in camera and I wonder if we should. Certainly the matters of greatest import were not dealt with in open session, so I can’t say much about them. This sits uneasily with our professional commitment to open information. It seems to me the default position should be that Council meetings and documents should be available to any and every member, unless they contain personally or financially sensitive information. At the moment the criteria for dealing with items in closed session are neither clear nor codified.
There’s some good plans for the 2015 election, including CILIP debates on five topics. On membership, we heard about the free student membership plan and the recruitment of a member of staff to help rebuild recruitment.
At the beginning of Council we had heard the results of CILIP’s FOI request, which established that the infamous page on gov.uk encouraging ‘community’ managed libraries had no ministerial sign-off. At the end, we heard that Vaizey is now refusing to meet the CEO. You can see Phil Bradley’s view of this at http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2014/01/vaizey-ignores-cilip.html and an alternative, in my view more cogent, on Leon Bolton’s blog at http://leonslibraryblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/why-we-dont-talk-anymore/.
For myself, I don’t think Vaizey’s fit of pique has much significance. Everyone knew that we were unlikely to get anywhere by reasoned argument alone. This government is utterly deaf to reason. Our task is to make the attempted destruction of public libraries so much an issue of public concern that Vaizey has to swallow his hurt feelings and meet us, whether he wants to or not. Public libraries, free, open, and professionally-staffed, will be here long after Vaizey has been forgotten.