So What Can I Do?
The most important thing is to share information, ideas and personal experiences with colleagues, family and friends. Unfortunately much of the mainstream media has accepted the cuts agenda with even the most sympathetic outlets focusing upon human interest stories rather than the very real alternatives. So our role now is to insure that people are aware of those alternatives and although some have been flagged here, do get in touch anything you feel may be important to share with others.
We can also look to form close ties with other public and private sector workers. It would be ill advised to work solely for the protection of your own service whilst others face severe hardships. Not only because it is simply not necessary but also because a diminished service elsewhere may see your own service suffer. For example since consultation times in Job Centre’s have halved from a maximum of 30 minutes to just 15 minutes you may have noticed more and more people asking for assistance in looking for work. While being fiercely protective of your own service is admirable it pays to work together rather than having sharp elbows.
To pick up a newspaper or to watch a report on the television you would think our current difficulties were caused by excessive public spending. Yet anyone who has worked in libraries for any real period of time will know that we have experienced cuts in the boom times too. The reason the narrative of the financial crisis of 2008 has shifted so dramatically from the greed of the financial sector to the waste of an unwieldy public sector is through a concerted lobbying campaign waged by those same groups who were first at fault. We also have to work hard to get two important messages out: of the good work that both libraries and many within the public sector more generally do; and that these cuts are neither inevitable nor necessary. So what does that mean in practice? It means contacting media organisations, local councillors, MPs and the local and national media to pressure them in to fully exploring the alternatives.