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consultation: public libraries? June 22, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : consultation, transparency , trackback

The Manchester Central Library’s website describes the library as “[o]ne of Manchester’s most famous and best-loved landmarks”. But the library is now being criticized for a programme of book-pulping which has been going on for some time and seems to be related to the renovation of the library buildings (“designed to give the city a flagship library of which it can be proud”). The library’s description of its policy (accessible here) is not very informative. A letter criticizing the pulping policy complains of a lack of transparency and argues that subject specialists and the people of Manchester should have been consulted. The letter thus advocates two seemingly rather distinct ideas of consultation, although expert and citizen consultation are often lumped together. The argument for consulting citizens is rather eloquent:

The books at central library are not owned by the council; they are owned by the people of Manchester. It is they, not politicians and bureaucrats, who need to have a say in what happens to this valuable Mancunian treasure.

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