Stand up for school librarians, says UNISON Scotland

Date: Monday 21 December 2015

UNISON Scotland has called on councils and Scottish Government to do more to protect school librarians. UNISON says the evidence is that local councils are seeing school library services as a soft target to meet budget cuts and are cutting school library services across Scotland.

UNISON has made a submission in support of School Libraries Petition PE 1581 to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee.

UNISON has evidence of cuts in North and South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Glasgow, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife and Shetland.

UNISON spokesperson, Simon Macfarlane, said:
‘There is a consistent pattern of the school libraries service being a soft target to meet budget cuts. School libraries are not class rooms with books. They are vital for young people’s learning. School librarians have a central role in equipping our young people for the digital age; recent research has shown that  children face struggle to discriminate between facts, fiction and paid for product placement online. School librarians are ideally placed to  support young people to be more discerning in their use of the internet for research. We shoudl be investing more not less in school librarians. It’s unacceptable that Scottish councils are taking the brunt of the austerity cuts. But we also canot let services like school libraries disappear’


UNISON Contacts:
Simon Macfarlane: 07703194132
Danny Phillips: 07944 664 110

UNISON is the biggest trade union in local government. We represent education staff including librarians and school librarians

The picture across Scotland varies but there is a consistent pattern of local authorities using the school libraries service as a soft target to meet budget cuts.

North and South Lanarkshire, East Renfreshire, Renfrewshire, Glasgow, East and South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife and Shetland

  • South Lanarkshire proposals include reducing school library staffing by 15%
  • North Lanarkshire is now proposing to review the school librarian service for a second time with the reduction of 2 FTE School Library Resource Manager posts. The last review saw all schools with pupil roll under 700 reduce librarian numbers to 0.7 FTE librarian. All new staff now are only employed term time. The Council has also removed the need for library staff to have professional library qualifications.
  • East Renfrewshire Council is proposing moving from 1 fully qualified librarian from each of its high schools (7) to the FTE of 3.5. The original plans to use senior pupils to staff the library appear to have been dropped due to public opposition.
  • Glasgow has reduced the school librarian service to 0.5 posts per school.
  • Renfrewshire now has only 7 librarians across 11 schools.
  • East Ayrshire has replaced 3 librarians with 3 library assistants. Means 9 secondary schools are now covered by 5 librarians and 4 library assistants.
  • South Ayrshire has, l replaced a number of librarians with library assistants.
  • In Dumfries and Galloway when the librarian retired from Dumfries Academy responsibility for the library was given to the Head of English. Lockerbie Academy also currently without a librarian and Annan Academy have reduced the hours to 20 per week
  • Fife  – school librarians who have retired have been replaced with library assistants
  • Shetland, where the school library service has always been integrated with the public library service, there have been cuts to school library book budgets of 20-30% over the last four years. While staff numbers have remained the same the working hours of staff have been cut from 8 FTE to 5.93 FTE.