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Tim Coates’s Manifesto for Good Libraries

Tim Coates has become an acclaimed and feared blogger in less than a year, with hits per month that I envy–and that many a large company would pay good money for (advertising is available, need I add?). At his Good Library Blog, which Berkshire sponsors, he has posted a manifesto for public libraries that merits discussion in every part of the library, information, and education worlds. I’ve chosen a couple of items from the lengthy document that highlight one of the unique qualities of Tim’s thinking: he doesn’t worry about justifying the value of libraries, because he knows that they are valuable, and he is practical and service-oriented. He also believes that the fact that we taxpayers pay for them makes it our right to have a say in how they are run!

Here are a few highlights of his manifesto:

In the past 2 weeks I have made a series of entries to describe what I and a group of others would like to propose as a new initiative for public libraries in England. I have compiled the entries and the ideas into one document which is here: —

I would be very grateful for comments here or in emails.

Public Library Policy

2) Attempts to identify the “impact” of public libraries or their contribution to other national or community agendas confuse and distract the management; they are not helpful and should stop. Funding should match the cost of the service when it is operated in an efficient manner. Funds should not have to be justified on the grounds of the contribution the service makes or varied as to where it is more or less used. Public libraries are intrinsically good and the Government and local councils should have the faith to say so. These beliefs, however, go alongside the reality that all government funded services must be as efficient as possible and must always strive to improve productivity.


12) Above all this new policy and these initiatives must recognise that in place of all the bodies of Government that are normally listed when “stakeholders of the public library” service are mentioned: the first and most important stakeholders are the public for whose benefit the service exists and who pay for it to be provided.

Read the Manifesto

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