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Union condemns cut in librarian numbers
Thursday, 25 October 2012
PLANS to slash the number of fully qualified librarians in Barnet by more than three-quarters have been slammed by trade union chiefs.
Barnet Unison has revealed that council bosses are proposing to reduce the number of professional librarian positions from 24.5 to just six in a bid to make budget savings of £500,000.
The six remaining librarians will be moved into back-of-house training positions while less qualified staff members will serve library users.
The plans were revealed to the public sector union last month in advance of the launch of formal negotiations later this month.
As part of the library strategy, which was agreed in July 2011, the council has been given the task of cutting £1.4million from its library budget over three years.
Around £400,000 has been saved through the closure of Friern Barnet Library and Church Farmhouse Museum in Hendon.
Library bosses hope to save a further £500,000 by removing all professional children’s and adults’ librarians from front-line positions in the borough’s 14 libraries and replacing them with customer service officers.
The council is also hoping to recruit more volunteers to help run library activities.
Barnet Unison secretary John Burgess said the changes would hit both residents and staff.
He said: “This restructure will result in a library service with fewer staff available to serve the public and with less expertise and skills. The choice of stock available in the libraries may decline and service and activities previously delivered by trained and experienced staff will be done by volunteers.”
He added that Unison had submitted an alternative proposal that would see savings made by cutting senior management positions in the library department.
A council spokeswoman said the plans were at an early stage and detailed proposals could not be discussed before formal consultation with staff trade unions.
She added: “The library service’s aim is to protect front-line services so that as far as the public are concerned, they are not directly impacted by the changes.”
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Posted by : Alan, London | Thursday 25/Oct/2012 | Report this comment
The deprofessionalisation and hollowing out of the Library Service in Barnet is a disgrace which will result in a poorer service to the public. The most worrying aspect is the cutting of specialist Childrens Librarian posts, this is an incredibly short sighted and retrograde step which will have long term implications in relation to literacy and learning.
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