Fine words and ideals no substitute for investment: UNISON inquiry into Scotland’s libraries

UNISON, the trade union for Scotland’s library staff, has published a report ‘Read It and Weep’, which outlines the experience of those working in Scotland’s libraries. It raises the concerns and difficulties of staff who are simultaneously being expected to expand services while being in the front line of cuts.

The report is based on qualitative research from UNISON members working across Scotland’s libraries. The frustration on the part of staff is clear. They are well aware that the services they provide are not as good as they could be and they highlight the impacts that cuts are making. Library services have been undergoing massive change in recent years yet staff numbers have been going down, buildings are closing and opening hours reduced

Gray Allan, UNISON Falkirk council branch spokesperson (and a librarian), said “There is no shortage of people willing to say libraries are a good thing. But what our libraries need isn’t just fine words and ideals but proper financing and investment. The Scottish Government has endorsed a national strategy for public libraries that talks of libraries being part of a shared civic ambition.

“There isn’t much point in giving every child in Scotland a library card if their local library is being closed or its hours have reduced so much it isn’t accessible.

” Staff are keen to see their service move forward but that isn’t happening.”