The UK Landscape Institute announced today that it has decided to sack its archivist (and four others), close the LI library archive and seek ‘a new home for the collections’. What a terrible shame. The old idea was that when you have only one loaf of bread left in the world you should sell half of it and buy a book. Or, if one is not quite so hard hit by the credit crunch, one should follow the Chinese proverb: ‘When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other’.
One really wonders why a professional institute should employ 26 staff and yet can’t maintain a library or publish any useful policies to support its members. Whose interests are being served?
I am very surprised that the Institute has shown signs of decline so suddenly. Apart from subscriptions from the members where does it get its funding? And perhaps more importantly what does it spend it on?? Surely the number of members hasn’t dropped as a result of the credit crunch, (so soon) or is that a sorry indictment on the value of the Institute – as soon as members’ cash supply constricts the first thing to go is the non-essential subscription to the LI? What did they ever do for us??
On the whole I get the impression that they are badly organised, staffed by a lot of part-timers who presumably are trying to practise as well as do the admin, that can’t be good for continuity. They have been trying to get the new exam format – Pathway – off the ground, which is a complex though laudable change to the system. Anything which relates the theory to real life must help prospective LAs absorb the facts and make sense of the whole complicated syllabus. As a mentor I suppose its good for me to refresh my memory about why we do all the things we do and what the relationship is one to another, but the run up to the exam is exhausting, time consuming and as onerous for me as it is to the students. Maybe I’m too conscientious, but I’d much rather they passed and could move on.
Policy though. I’ve never really thought about their policies; to what? – to design; to promote sustainability; to push out the boundaries on new ideas; fund research (that would be useful); stimulate debate; promote the landscape profession in Parliament (that would be a first). Do they not have a PR consultant is my eternal question? They are so low profile, even provincial, this is an unforgiveable characteristic when their whole raison d’etre is to represent us.