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68th IFLA Conference Logo  

68th IFLA General Conference and Council

Libraries for Life: Democracy, Diversity, Delivery

August 18th - 24th 2002, Glasgow, Scotland


A debate on the motion

"This house believes that the existence of separate libraries for special populations is a form of censorship".

Proposing the Motion:

John J Godber, Assistant Director, RNIB Technical and Consumer Services Division, UK

John Godber is a life-long consumer of library services for the blind: "I am ravenously hungry because there's not much on the menu if you don't read print."

In 1986 he became a fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and was funded to research library services for the blind in USA and Canada. "I found real Braille books in actual public libraries which was a knock-out for a Brit".

What he learned in North America about what could be done, inspired him to work for change in the UK. In 1993, together with a small group of far sighted enthusiasts, he set up "Share The Vision" as a catalyst to bring together organisations from the voluntary and statutory sectors to begin some real working together for shared objectives.

"Share The Vision" has brought about a sea change in attitudes and provision in the UK. Services to blind people have begun to come out of the "institute" and get on the shelf in your local library.

Just when you thought it was safe to sign off your library plan, be prepared to tear it up and start again with a fresh, open mind.

Opposing the Motion:

David Owen, Director, Share The Vision, UK
  • 1967-1980: various posts with Liverpool City Libraries, culminating in Assistant City Librarian
  • 1980-1986: Director of Libraries, Manchester City Council
  • 1986-1998: Director of Libraries and Theatres, Manchester City Council

Having not directed a single play, by 1998 the once young Turk had become a weary boring old fart and retired with his O.B.E.[= Other Buggers' Efforts]. But lo, Share The Vision advertised for a Director and he regained his youthful enthusiasm and ability to irritate and aggravate people around the world (including Ross Shimmon in Havana).
[Though he wouldn't mention it, he was one of the first to set up special facilities in a British Public library for visually impaired readers. Ed.]

Seconding the Motion:

Dick Tucker, Deputy Director, FORCE Foundation, Netherlands, and Secretary of the IFLA Section Libraries for the Blind

The habit of saying "Yes" to (almost) all invitations and ideas has lead to an odd career path: four years at sea, newspaper photographer, lecturer in drama and film, maker of films and educational materials. While in the Scottish Council for Educational Technology in the early 1970's, he got inveigled into the secret world of libraries - cataloguing rules, media resource centres and even copyright - and has never really managed to escape since. In 1984 moved to the Netherlands Institute for Audio-visual Media, and in 1990 began a three-year voyage of discovery of small company economics, which lead to the equally mysterious world of European Commission projects, mostly about libraries. Then follow six years of library and development projects with the Dutch Library for Visually and Print-Handicapped Students, including EXLIB, TESTLAB, CANTATE, HARMONICA, and the start of MIRACLE, before moving in 1998 to the FORCE Foundation. Now he is trying to apply some of the logic of all preceding items to developing production centres and libraries for the blind in Africa and the former Soviet Union.

Seconding the Opposition:

Alex Byrne, University Librarian and Deputy Chair Academic Board at the Sydney University of Technology, Australia, and Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee

Worked previously in various remote areas of Australia in which he learned to plumb the depths as a scuba diver, a useful skill for those involved in freedom of access to information work. He did a great deal of work on library and information services for indigenous peoples, some of the most marginalised in the world. A taste for good red wine and bad jokes can be traced to a Celtic heritage.


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