My visitors today

Thursday 26 February 2009

Save our Souls!

No jolly picture
on a day for

I was so tired, I had actually fallen asleep already when my telephone buzzed me awake.

What very sad news I received

What I consider as my “conductive home”, the National Institute for Conductive Education, appears to be falling apart at the seams. It appears that its recent appeal for 120,000 pounds really was its last cry for help.

The message that I received was to inform me that Gill Maguire’s job as Librarian, which she has held since 1991, has been made redundant. Gill probably knows more of what has been written about Conductive Education than anyone else in the world!
If she is made redundant then that means the end of the Library too.

My immediate reaction on receiving this news was sadness, both for Gill personally and for the world of Conductive Education. Does the world of CE actually know what a wealth of information there is in “Gill’s library”? If not, it is time it did.

After the sadness came the anger

This is what I wrote in my notebook while lying there, now wide awake in bed.

I just received a text. It made me cry. It is senseless. The library at NICE is the last thing that should go. I just can not believe it. Where is all that info going to go? Who is going to continue finding it and collecting it and sorting it and making it available to those who need it?

Surely the Foundation can save more money making a conductor redundant than by loosing Gill and the library?

They call it a “cull of support staff”. This is a cull of staff that supports the whole world. What idiots they are. It is so short sighted.

I thought the whole reason for the existence of The Foundation for Conductive Education was for the development of CE and for the gathering and imparting of knowledge. Just how is this expected to happen without its Library?

What a crazy world!

Gill and the Library are so important to Conductive Education and no one at the “top” seems to realise this. What is NICE going to do, if it gets through the crunch and back on to its feet, without its Library?


Anonymous said...

Dear Susie

I couldn't agree with you more!

When I heard the news today about Gill’s redundancy my heart just sank and I have felt very strange and saddened since.

I feel so sorry for Gill after all of the hard work she has put into building up the reference material in the library for many many years to be suddenly told that she has lost her job. I also feel scared about the future of CE. Folk talk of ‘saving’ Conductive Education and in my opinion the recent decision made about Gill’s job will ensure that the ethos and value of the work will not be saved.

The works in the library give Conductive Education credibility and although all Conductors know the value of the work, outsiders do not.

When I was a student, Gill always knew where every single piece of paper, every book, every film and every document was filed. She took pride in her work and always worked very hard.

Please excuse my openness, I do not often write on bloggs and forums, but when something like this happens I feel that I have to.

I do hope that together we could help to turn this decision around.

Kind Wishes
Mandy Elliott
(Conductive Education Support Services Ltd UK)

Rony Schenker, OTR, PhD, Tsad Kadima, Israel said...

I suggest that a petition should be formulated emphasising the ongoing need worldwide of the services provided by the NICE library and librarian. Gill Mcguire is not 'a support staff'. she is an inseparable part of the existence of conductive education body of knowledge and a very important figure in the delivery of this knowledge worldwide. The world of conductive education need her, not only NICE.
We can than, send it all over and get as much signatures as possible and forward it to the foundation for reconsideration.
Let's get the most of the real power of the Internet.
If anyone find this idea reasonable, and can draft best the petition, please let us know.

Anonymous said...

Without reiterating the previous postings I wish to express my own concerns regarding the future of the CE library at NICE. The recent decision which was made regarding the redundancy of the librarian in the institute for me is a rather foolish and irrational one. How one can expect the growth and prosperity of practice without the acknowledgement of knowledge and understanding? How can you think about future by destroying the past?

The current decision seems to be something of an identity problem too. The librarian has been made redundant and conductors will run the library service…Surely the solution would not work other way around!!! Why do we pretend to do something which is beyond our capabilities?

The very special nature of the CE library in Birmingham needs a librarian with the interest and passion for CE to sustain which was achieved in the last 20 years. Conductors should need the library to understand more about themselves and their own profession, to be able to deal with the demand of the changing context of their own profession, to engage in reading which stimulates thinking. Parents, service users, researchers and academics both nationally and internationally need a CE library to have access to specific information which is not available anywhere else. Student conductors need the library because despite the practical/professional nature of their undergraduate course they still study for their degree and you read for a degree… but they also need good conductors to teach them to be a conductor not in the library but in the teaching rooms and in the practice place itself. Hope issuing in and out books from the library will not hinder the trainer-conductors to fulfil their original responsibilities….

Personally I would be very sad to see the issue of library to fade away. I would definitely sign the competition, thanks Rony for the idea!


Lisa Gombinsky said...

I too wish to add my comments -- I have worked and struggled in the non profit sector for years now. I understand that awful decisions have to get made, and that as a result sometimes programs or people get cut. I have seen it happen many times and like in other instances, on a personal note my heart absolutely goes out to Gill -- Gill, I am so sad that this has happened, and can only hope that your next chapter is an awesome one.

My first reaction on receiving the text from Andrew in what was the early morning here in Australia was not one of sadness, but one of disgust. Disgust that an organization such as NICE, which is supposedly an academic institution, would see the role of librarian as non-essential, would not place value on what a skilled and knowledgeable librarian contributes to student development, and would under-estimate the importance of such a librarian in the global academic and professional community.

I also felt disgust that an organization such as NICE, which is supposedly a standard-setting place in terms of being human would even consider letting someone who has dedicated so much time and energy over so many years go. Gill is the gate-keeper for all that is known, understood, and most importatantly documented about Conductive Education. When I was a student Gill guided and supported me in ways no senior conductor -- hungarian or english -- was able to do, and gave me the academic space to work through and organize my ideas and thoughts. As a professional living and working far from the CE hub, she has made it possible for me to continue to develop professionally and to stay connected to the conductive community. I know many other conductors and students feel the same, and can also think of multiple occasions where I have had grateful and positive feedback from families or students (conductors in training or students from other disciplines)that I have directed to Gill for help.

The role of librarian at NICE is not just a support role -- it is a major foundation stone that keeps Conductive Education together internationally, and Gill is way more than 'just any librarian'. I understand that there is a global economic crisis, but wish to raise my protest to this narrow-minded decision and to support the other conductors who have already responded in my sincere plea that this decision will be reconsidered and the redundancy rectified.

Lisa Gombinsky
Senior Conductor, Adult Programs
The Spastic Centre of New South Wales

Anonymous said...

In 1991 I spent two weeks researching CE in Hungary, based at the Foundation's Centre in Budapest. Later in 1991 I held a fellowship from the Foundation to study Conductive Education for my M Ed degree from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Following that I undertook a two-week study tour, also arranged in co-operation with the Foundation, of UK institutions practising Conductive Education at that time.

From January 1992 -to August 1993 I served as Director of the Foundation's Budapest Centre and Tutor to the Foundation's students then training to be conductors at the Peto Institute - the position previously held by Janet Read.

Those were the situations in which I directly experienced the esssential nature of the Library to the Foundation’s role.

This recent decision, presumably made by the Board, to make the position of Librarian at NICE redundant is illogical, unintelligent, and short sighted.

The Library, headed by a competent librarian, is always a key component of any academic institution. The work of Gill McGuire in setting up and maintaining the library at NICE has been exemplary. Students and practitioners of Conductive Education around the world have benefited from the National Library and the assistance of Gill Maguire. Consequently children in need of Conductive Education have benefited also. Sincere congratulations to Gill for her sterling work.

The necessity to save costs in the present economic climate is recognised. However, without question the services of the Library and Librarian should be maintained and other avenues of cost saving should be explored.

As one who has benefited greatly from the library and librarian at NICE I fully support signing a petition or engaging in whatever activity necessary to ensure that the Board of the Foundation recognises the necessity to retain the service of the Librarian and Library. said...

I was just looking at the shelves…there is a three of them full of information from NICE library.
Picking up the First issue of “Conductor” Magazine…how many young “conductors” knows what this magazine was about?
"Shooting the messenger" is this always the best choice to correct the correctives?
We need right now (I mean entire world of CE) to stand up!!! This is the last chance!!!
Let me know …I can sign anything that can help.

Jerzy MaslankaCalgary, Alberta, Canada

Ben Foulger said...

As has already been said, this decision seems very short sighted. As a recently graduated conductor, I am extremely aware of the the hugely important role that Gill played in my training, let alone for all the others who made use of her unique knowledge, expertise and experience. I fail to see how two conductors, whose primary concern is the training, can replace Gill, even on a practical day-to-day basis - and that is ignoring all the knowledge that only she has and that can never be written down.

She was a huge help during my training and is a huge loss both to NICE and to the CE world in general. I fear for the students of the future without her presence, indeed for the training as a whole.

Although I understand that NICE is in big trouble financially, I cannot imagine that Gill was on a huge salary, the world of librarians is not a highly paid one. Therefore the cost to NICE, and CE in general, of loosing her versus the cash savings must be hugely skewed. Did the managment consider anything other than the finances? How about the message it sends to the world outside NICE? How about the cost to the current and future students? How about the cost to any potential research?

That the supposed centre of excelence for CE in the UK would take such a step is hugely worrying. The question is - what is next? Who or what is next to be 'made redundant'?


Anonymous said...

Inter arma, silent musae

When weapons speak, silent fall the Muses

I, too, feel shocked at the potential loss of a working Library at the Foundation. How would student conductors use it without its Creator-Librarian?

These are war times indeed! My family has already donated towards the Foundation’s emergency appeal (we have been Members from the very beginning) but I am still ready to help in any way possible towards saving the knowledge base of Conductive Education as enshrined in Gill‘s Library.

I was a parent and I am now a carer. I am not sure how far other "users" would join me in this, although opinions from this side of CE are rather sparse on the CE blogs.

I compare the sudden onset of this fearful economic climate to "war times", when people have to make compromises in order to survive, so what about asking Gill to stay with us in a part-time capacity?

I am of course not "only" a conductive parent but also a campaigner, like so many others, and we want to see the benefits of Conductive Education spread further among those who need it. I have enjoyed practical support for my various efforts from the Library, via its helpful and enthusiastic Librarian.

Thank you, Gill, and I hope we will not lose you from amongst us

Becky Featherstone said...

I graduated from NICE almost two years ago and have since been working in Brazil. There is very little documentation about CE available here so I still greatly rely on the library at NICE and more importantly Gill. I have regular contact with her via email, asking for news of any new publications, and also find her to be a great source of advice in all aspects of working as a conductor.

I like many felt shock, sadness and anger at the news of her sudden redundancy and replacement by two conductors. I am not saying that they are not knowledgeable on CE, and I am sure Gill will wish them the best of luck, but conductors are what they are and not librarians. Each of us are given a job title because that is what we are qualified to do, we have been trained in our profession and are therefore capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of our job, not those of others. Despite the unquestionable knowledge that Gill has on CE, I am sure she would not mind me saying that were she placed in a room full of children with pc she would be lost. Just as a conductor in a library will be equally lost. Why do we spend many years training and why do we have a job title if we are supposedly able to do that of others?

I am pleased to hear that the library will continue to exist at NICE as it is undoubtably important in the world of CE, but is existing enough? Without Gill I feel that the library will be maintained by conductors, but will not grow as it has done in the years Gill has been there. Gill does not just maintain what the library already contains, but searches for new articles and documents so that it can keep expanding will this continue? Only 4 weeks ago she contacted me about a brazilian artcile she had found via the internet but could not access. She wanted to know if I had knowledge of its existence or access to it, it is now on its way to her, or rather to the new librarions/conductors. Gill went to great efforts to expand the library in any way she could, will anyone else put in so much effort?

I have one last comment, if a library can exist without a librarian, can conductive education exist without conductors?


Anonymous said...

What a challenging parting shot your letter ends with (or do you rather intend it as a Parthian one?).

Either way it is indicative how this business had begun to catalyse all sorts of basic questions in and around Conductive Education, that have previously been left unsaid.

Maybe this means no more that opening up a can of worms (I believe that the Australians would state this more vividly). Or maybe it relases the demongs from a Pandora's box, so that we may find Hope inside. It is up those who care for Conductive Education to act to ensure the outcome of their choice.

You specific question '...can Conductive Education exist without conductors' is a killer one. and will exwercise many minds over the coming year or two, not least in the light of the upcoming Congress in Hong Kong.

I look forward to hearing your own voice in that debate.

LeticiaBTK said...


It is absolutly non - understandable this situation. Gill was the way when I started my studies, as a mum, about Conductive Education. She conduct me as well to read the best books and articles, and setting aside what was not that true or good abot CE.
We all have problems, and situations are not good everywhere, but the library is the core of NICE, all the concepts came from there, all the knowledge is there, and of course linked with Gill.
I am absolutly sad about, i am late because i could not understand what redundant was, sorry about my english.
Lots of love for you and Gill,

Anonymous said...

Dear Susie,

Since I came back to Germany in 2003 after graduating at NICE it has been quite tough for me to see what is going on in the German "conductive" world. But I have always known what I myself had learned at NICE and what CE meant for me. But even more important, I always believed that NICE was there,setting standards and showing the world how CE can be.

When I read the other comments on Susie's blog it seems that, not only for me but for many others, NICE and - A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF IT - the library (with a librarian!!) have been some sort of a "conductive home".

I really don't know what to believe about NICE, when its own board decides to take such a step to saving money. What about its credibility as a place where students are educated, where international professionals seek information and guidance too, when this board acts - at least in my eyes - in such an unprofessional way?

Right from the start it has been hard enough to convey what CE really is - let alone, to explain what Susie calls the "conductive soul". As a result of this, I have often felt, CE is not taken seriously enough. But how can we expect this from anybody else when NICE (!!!!) gives the impression that it does not take its own subject serious any more? To make the librarian redundant and to replace her with two conductors does not give the impression that there is something there worth protecting and to developing.

This, I can barely understand. Everybody shouts for the importance of research and development in CE. But the board of NICE decides to cut down a very important source/instrument for this.

I do not know a solution for all this, but when I read the comment from Jerzy about the dog - well that sounds right to for me....

Protect it first - PLEASE!! - and then find some way to be able to continue this important work properly!