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Fri 3 February 2012

National Libraries Day 4 Feb - support your local library and its team of skilled, dedicated staff

As part of National Libraries Day, 4 February 2012, UNISON Scotland has called on councils to defend their local library services - not cut them. Falkirk Libraries opening hours have been cut from 54 hours a week to 45 hours along with cuts in staff hours. Glasgow is about to lose half of  its professional librarians over the next year.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns in Scotland said:

“On National Libraries Day, UNSION Scotland rightly celebrates the wonderful service that our members in local libraries provide to communities across Scotland. Libraries, community learning centres and access points provide an ever more vital role in this time of recession and economic uncertainty. They provide accessible education and entertainment for people facing pay freezes, job insecurity or unemployment and rising costs.

“But our library services themselves are increasingly under threat from cutbacks in opening hours and jobs. UNISON Scotland believes this is a false economy. We call on local councillors – and candidates in the forthcoming Scottish council elections – to campaign for decent library provision and proper staffing levels, not cuts to the vital service our members provide.”

Gray Allan, Secretary of Falkirk UNISON branch and a librarian, said:

“The opening hours of Falkirk Libraries have been reduced from 54 hours to 45 hours per week since last September. Libraries now do not open till 10am, they close earlier at 3pm on Saturday and 4pm on Wednesday. And they are now only open to 8pm on two nights each week instead of three. Meanwhile part-time staff hours have been cut and one professional librarian’s post deleted and replaced at a lower wage.”

The story of library cutbacks is being repeated in other councils. In Glasgow over half of the city’s 25 professional librarian posts will be lost over the coming year. And in Dumfries and Galloway, the library materials budget has been cut by 25%.

Gray Allan said:

“If you can’t afford a key book for your studies and the library can’t afford to buy it either how are you to achieve your full potential? If the library isn’t open, what can you do? And if skilled library staff are not available because jobs have been cut or downgraded, the service will be less effective. Access to knowledge and information is the key to a fair society and a well educated population will be the key to a better economy. And for that we need libraries - and librarians.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns Scotland - 07958 122409
Gray Allan, Falkirk Branch Secretary - 07710 528533

Note to editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, and represents library staff in local council areas.

2. UNISON’s UK campaign Love Your Libraries is online here: http://www.unison.org.uk/localgov/loveyourlibraries.asp and we are supporting National Libraries Day on Saturday 4 February – more info on website here : http://www.nationallibrariesday.org.uk/

 

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