Date: Fri 8 February
UNISON urges support for library services – National
Libraries Day 9 February
UNISON today hit out at cuts to library services and urged councillors
to defend libraries at the heart of local communities.
Tomorrow (Saturday 9 February) is National Libraries Day, which
celebrates the role of libraries and the range of information
and entertainment they provide.
However, recent years of cuts have hit library services hard,
with closures around Scotland and many now operating reduced
Gray Allan, Secretary of Falkirk UNISON branch, and a librarian,
said: “Libraries offer a fantastic place for people to
come to for knowledge and information and expert help from trained
librarians. It is desperately sad and wrong that at a time of
financial difficulties for so many, library services are being
cut back. We need improved services, not to make it harder for
people to access a library.”
UNISON said another worrying development is the loss of mobile
libraries. A number have been axed in council cutbacks and more
are under threat as budget decisions are taken this month. Aberdeen,
Moray, East Lothian and Midlothian councils are among those that
have closed or propose to close mobile libraries. Yet many elderly
people, and others who can’t easily get to a nearby library,
rely on the mobile service not just for books, but the human
contact and interaction which libraries themselves also provide.
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said: “Libraries,
community learning centres and access points are more vital than
ever just now. They provide accessible education and entertainment
for people facing pay freezes, job insecurity or unemployment
and rising costs.
“It is a false economy to cut these vital services and
in some areas the cuts are severe.”
In Moray, the council is proposing to close seven libraries
and one mobile library. This leaves eight libraries (four with
reduced opening hours) and one mobile library to cover 2,238
square miles. This is in the eighth largest geographical council
area in Scotland. Three librarian posts and one mobile library
driver would go, with one librarian expected to cover four of
the remaining libraries, while the book budget is cut by £25,000.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said cuts to library
services around the UK have a big impact: “Children from
the poorest families will suffer the most, as will their chances
of a decent education. Low income families are struggling to
afford the basic essentials, let alone books.
“Countless high profile writers have highlighted how crucial
their local library was in their development. How many best-selling
books will now not be written because budding writers did not
have access to a decent local library.”
For information please contact:
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409
Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877
Note to editors:
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing
160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, including
library staff in local council areas.
2. UNISON is supporting National Libraries Day on Saturday 9