Serious Issues with Staffless Libraries – Quinn
Sinn Féin Cllr Malachy Quinn has said that there are serious concerns in relation to staffless libraries. Cllr Quinn was speaking following the recent announcement by Fingal County Council that they propose to trail the Staffless Library scheme in Donabate & Portrane Library in the New Year.
An emergency motion was put to last Monday’s December meeting of the Council by a cross party & Independent group of Councillors calling on the council to support the decision of the Library staff not to cooperate with the scheme; regrettably Fianna Fail, Fine Gael & some so-called Independents voted not to accepted the motion.
Cllr Quinn said:
“Serious concerns have been raised by the Impact Trade Union in relation to various issues with staffless libraries.
“IMPACT called a ballot on the 24th of November in response to various local authorities’ plans for a large-scale pilot of after-hours staffless services, which staff feared would ultimately lead to completely staffless libraries with sharply limited services to the public.
“The results of that ballot on the 1st of December showed a clear majority of library staff who were members of Impact were opposed to Staffless libraries.
“There are widespread fears around health and safety protections for library users and workers, and the possible erosion of staff terms and conditions. If staffless services are deemed an option, councils will inevitably seek further savings by extending unstaffed services into core opening times.
“The IMPACT Trade Union are already on the record as stating that the extension of staffless arrangements would leave library users unable to get assistance from trained and qualified staff, or benefit from cultural and educational events and that this would hit less advantaged communities and individuals hardest, because wealthier and better educated groups generally need less help and can afford to pay for more cultural and educational experiences.
“This measure will short-change communities across Fingal. There’ll be no school visits, no storytelling, no help to find what you want, no security presence, and erosion of the hundreds of educational and artistic events that libraries provide throughout the year. Everyone will lose out, especially the elderly, students and disadvantaged communities. Management’s own data from the three pilots previously undertaken across the state clearly shows that the vast majority of library users prefer to visit our local library during core hours when expert staff are there to help.
“It is my view that the Government needs to rethink this plan. Sinn Féin would like to see extended hours for public library services, but not at the expense of the health and safety of users and reduced equity of access to this fundamental public service.”