Outrage greets senior staff redundancies at National Library
THE normally tranquil reading rooms of the National Library of Scotland are resounding to an unseemly row after six senior staff were told they were being made redundant.
One of Scotland’s best-known historians last night condemned the move as "evil" and claimed it threatened the standing of the institution, which is one of Europe’s top research libraries.
Questions have also been asked in the Scottish Parliament about the situation.
The Scottish Executive said job losses at the library, based in Edinburgh, are part of a "restructuring" exercise designed to improve efficiency and openness to the public.
It is also understood the staff can reapply for their jobs.
The library, whose main site is on the city’s George IV Bridge, takes a copy of every book published in the UK and is a key research resource for Scottish academics and the public alike.
But it has suffered from financial cutbacks. Twelve members of staff took voluntary redundancy when the National Science Library, part of the institution, closed in 2001 amid warnings that the move would mean a shortage of resources for students, academics, consultants and businesses.
Owen Dudley Edwards, a reader in history at Edinburgh University and an expert on Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, said he was appalled at the move.
"I have to use a large number of research libraries across the world and the service at the National Library of Scotland is the equal of any.
"This is a wonderful group of people and to see it being sacrificed now, and the future of the library being endangered, is absolutely tragic. It’s not only wrong, it’s evil to treat people in this way."
Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor, the Tory culture spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, has asked Culture Minister Frank McAveety about the situation.
McGrigor said: "The staff involved are at the top of the academic bracket but they are just being swept away with a broom. It’s a backwards step."
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