Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Edinburgh to do away with librarians?

At first glance of this story, you might be justified in thinking that the world has gone nuts. Isn't it the height of the false political correctness that most people can't stand to rename librarians as Audience Development Officers?

That, it seems, is the least of UNISON's worries. As the City of Edinburgh Council revamps its library service, they are concerned that the introduction of self service scanning stations in libraries will lead to the loss of 40 jobs over 3 years.

These would mean that librarians would take on a more customer focused role of doing things like leading courses and events within the library.

To be honest, it seems like Labour and UNISON are simply scaremongering. It looks to me that the librarians' jobs will become more lively and interesting and that the Council is looking at innovative ways of attracting people back to using its libraries. There's significant investment, too, with £15 million going into revamping the Central Library.

Maybe it's worth a try to see how the new systems work? And as for the job losses, which seem to be simple scaremongering to me, I have a hunch that library usage will increase as the economic downturn bites harder and people have to ditch that all too convenient Amazon habit.

To be honest, I would forget the name change. People who work in libraries are librarians. Full stop. They already provide a range of service and advice way beyond their titles.

The UNISON ballot figures do suggest, however, that the Council has some way to go to convince its staff that they have nothing to fear from these changes. Let's hope that the Union does not get in the way of constructive dialogue as they so often do.

Bear in mind that this posting has been written by someone who is obsessed with books and reading and is a huge fan of her local library.

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