Saturday Assistants, Library Assistants, Cataloguers, Acquisitions and Finance Staff, Library Attendants and Van Drivers, Admin/Clerical Staff, IT Support Staff, Homework Club Co-ordinators and Librarians (sorry if I’ve missed any out but each Library Authority has its own set up and its own job titles!) We all have one thing in common and that is pulling together to deliver an important public service when faced with round after round of catastrophic cuts!
So why is it then that some feel left out of the conversation on the cuts, the fight back and future of Public Library Services?
Is it because that there is a perception that up until now the conversation has been monopolised by ‘professional’ qualified librarians, is it that Library Assistants etc. feel unable to speak out due to the fear of reprisals and losing their jobs, is it due to the hierarchical nature of library work where some staff still feel undermined and undervalued, is it down to the extremely low levels of morale and motivation in the sector, is it due to life and work pressures eating up people’s time and energy, is it just down to apathy and a feeling of hopelessness or just not knowing where to start? Well I’m sure it’s a mixture of all of these.
Library Assistants etc. must now surely make up 70-80% of the national public library workforce, in some areas Librarians are few and far between, so it is crucial that they have a voice, obviously many do through being union members but from some feedback that I’ve had many feel left out of the general discussion.
What can be done? Well maybe when we say ‘Librarians’ in a general discussion we could use ‘Library staff’ instead, maybe we could have an honest and open discussion about what ‘professional’ means, does it always have to mean having a library qualification, I don’t and I’m a Librarian, whether I’m ‘professional’ or not is open to debate!
It’s crucially important that we try to involve everyone in the debate so I wanted to make sure everyone knows that the forthcoming VFTL ‘twitter takeover’ is for all library workers.
After all we really are all in this together!