Staff morale 'at all-time low' as librarian numbers plummet

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STAFF morale in libraries across the Capital is said to be at an "all-time low" as figures show the number of full-time librarians has plunged by nearly a quarter.

The city council has been undertaking a two-year review of its library service and now employs 19 fewer full-time qualified librarians than it did a year ago. "Team leader" positions have been created covering two or more libraries in the place of the old head librarian roles in each library.

It has left a quarter of the city's libraries with no full-time head librarian – and that figure is expected to be cut further.

Many head librarians who have not been successful in applying for team leader roles have been given lower-graded roles.

Union leaders said they would continue to fight the changes

One former member of staff, who left recently after 30 years, said: "It's the worst I've ever known staff morale to be in all that time – and there has been a lot of change over the years. At every single level, the number of posts has reduced.

"A lot of qualified librarians have been displaced and given posts lower down, temporarily at the same salary but only for three years. There are a lot of disgruntled staff.

"Staff are all completely demoralised. The communication has been poor. A consultant has been telling people what to do and railroading people into this new structure.

"People have felt they have had no choice but to go through this process of re-applying for jobs."

Figures show there were only 66 full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified librarians in May this year, compared to 85.2 a year earlier. And 24 per cent of the city's 26 libraries no longer employ a head librarian.

Councillor Paul Godzik, culture and leisure spokesman for the Labour group on the city council, said: "The Lib Dem/SNP cuts have seen staff from across the library service lose their jobs, and figures show that nearly 25 per cent of our libraries do not have a full-time head librarian.

"The ongoing review has also clearly had an effect on leadership and on overall staff morale. I believe that the review needs to be brought to a conclusion, and a permanent structure put in place that will allow our library service to thrive."

Earlier this year, the Evening News reported the job title "librarian" is set to be changed to "audience development officer" as part of the shake-up of the service, while self-service checkouts were also to be introduced.

Under the council's libraries review, all 300 staff are to be given new job roles and job descriptions, while staff have new teams and managers.

Unison service conditions convener John Ross said morale was "extremely low" and vowed to continue to fight the changes.

He said: "It is always our objective to arrive at agreed ways forward without having to take action. But if our members come back to us and state that the new service is not working, we will have to look at that."

Culture leader Cllr Deidre Brock said: "

Growing use of the internet for reference and information is enabling us to structure the service so that our staff can better cater to our customers' needs."

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