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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    LASER's Libraries: a vision

    Perhaps I'm being unduly cynical, or perhaps I've just read too much Chomski and Soros lately, but it seems to me that government (any country, any government - you choose) has a different view of democracy these days. It seems to amount to taking a policy decision (attack Iraq, require national identity cards, make public libraries use their existing resources even better), acquiring some research to back that decision up and moving ahead regardless of all logic and evidence.
    Take the latest Laser report. This seems to be based on three intensive working days for the "library leaders of the future", sponsored by the Laser Foundation in 2004. It is supported by the Rt Hon Chris Smith, MP and formerly Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport at the DCMS, now Director of the Clore Leadership Foundation, who - with Lord McIntosh (Minister for Media and Heritage DCMS), John McTernan (Downing Street Policy Unit), Chris Trinick Chief Executive, Lancashire CC and Charles Leadbeater consultant, author and associate of Demos - will be supporting it at a follow-up conference. Already, comments are beginning to appear on LIS-CILIP - rightly so, when we are confronted by statements such as, "Library staff may have to adopt a corporate appearance, wearing uniform, or adhering to a dress code (Section 9)" or " They must spend more time 'on the floor', and be as well trained as good shop assistants in customer relations. Good staff must be properly paid; less than adequate staff must
    be helped to leave (Section 9)" or "Management skills are in short supply; library school syllabuses are out of touch with today's needs (Section 9)".
    But before Easter, public librarians will once again be dusting themselves off, feeling gingerly for their bruises, and trying to resume a REAL service in the wake of the reduced funding that seems inevitably to follow a UK government-supported independent report.


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