For many years, as a library manager, when questioning practices or introducing change I have been met with, in so many words, the proposition that: “but that’s not the way. We’ve always done it like this. Everyone else does it like this. Check with them. Why should we change”
Such an attitude, at various times, created conflict between myself and my staff and between myself and my colleagues – not to mention, between myself and my super-ordinates, who generally had neither study, nor skills, nor understanding of library practice or library management.
The result was detriment to my career; missed opportunities for promotion, often to those who I could demonstrate couldn’t match either my skills or my perceptions, let alone the depth of my study or experience. That I took the time to read widely in many areas and to attempt to integrate knowledge from a variety of fields, as well as to play “devil’s advocate” and both pose and seek answers to the difficult questions, seemed only to bring scorn, envy or acrimony, usually expressed in denigration and/or abuse.
Despite accurately predicting future conditions and often having been in front of the pack in preparing for change, I was constantly faced with the scorn and over-ruling of super-ordinates who had gained their positions not through possession of relevant skills and experience but because of behaviour satisfying those with power to grant promotion or appointment.
I finally retired, very debilitated and sad that I had been unable to exercise the full extent of my knowledge and perception to improve library services and, at the same time, understanding that being who I am, there is no way that I could have compromised what I knew to be right and retain any dignity, integrity and principle.
I don’t, of course, place myself at the level of Yudkin. I don’t claim that I had discovered, observed or interpreted some different view that would save the lives – or at least alter the lives of thousands of people.
My point is that the same process as was suffered by Yudkin and that destroyed his career is alive and well today. It was the process that destroyed my career and has left me sad, weary and depressed. It is the same process that causes such an effect on many people.
I apologise if my relating of this article to personal events seems not relevant or appropriate to you. However, this article, quite apart from showing a scandalous failing on the part of communities controlled or ruled by elites, reminded me so closely of my own career and the obstacles and attitudes I faced.
The long read: In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?