Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Of the People, By the People, For the People

In his blog on The Bookseller, John Pateman talks about a new operational model for libraries that is being trialled in Suffolk - handing over library management to volunteers.

Well, for some time now, I've been watching what's been going on in the High Street; major chains disappearing and more and more charity shops replacing them, with 'superstores' and also niche stores specialising in furniture, white goods, even designer labels. I think this is the next retail revolution, driven in part by the likes of Freecycle, Gumtree and Ebay that make second hand culturally acceptable. Tatty furniture is rebranded as 'shabby chic' and old T shirts with holes in are 'retro'.

So why shouldn't more services go the same way? I think libraries are an excellent example. The hub of the community, libraries offer free access to literature for all, so why shouldn't they be managed and run on the same basis? The population is ageing rapidly and we have a growing group of people who want a third career, would often be happy to volunteer and have a lifetime of management and operational experience to bring.

I guess the trendy phrase is 'social enterprise', but it amounts to the same thing; of the people, by the people, for the people, as Number 6 would say.

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