There's been a bit of discussion about Margaret Hodge's speech to the Public Library Association the other week, wherein she posited a clutch of innovative blue skies ideas that the public library world could do well to consider. Most of the discussion has been along the lines of "but we already do that!"
"Which of you are going to be the first to provide libraries in shopping centres?" she asked. Well, we have for the best part of two decades and we were by no means the first. The day we're innovative leaders in this particular context the Pope will be baring his bum at the Vatican.
She then went on to suggest that we should try and attract young male readers by stocking comics and Manga books. Again, old news. We were very late into this game, only starting stocking graphic novels (which are mostly, but not exclusively, comics collected into book form) and Manga as part of a project aimed at young adult males just before the Millennium. (I'd be happy for us not to stock Manga, too much of which I find to be quite misogynistic, but the market's there right enough.)
She'll be telling us next that we might like to have a few computers about the place and do story times for pre-school children.
I could understand the minister responsible for the nuclear industry not being up to speed on the latest technological developments but you'd like to think that the minister responsible for libraries would have at least the educated lay person's idea of what's happening in a service that is provided most every day to most every community. (I can say that with some confidence seeing as we're all required to have at least one service point within a mile's radius of 95% of the population).
We keep wittering on about the lack of national leadership. Is it any wonder...