The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) welcomes the publication of the Unison in Scotland ‘Read it and weep’ report and the challenging issues it raises about the working conditions and professional status of public librarians in Scotland.
We are concerned to note the issues in the report which touch on the safety and wellbeing of library staff, and particularly lone workers. All employers have a duty of care to their staff, which includes making adequate provision for their health, safety and welfare at work. In the case of lone workers, this means undertaking an adequate assessment of the risks and taking clear steps to minimise them. It is never acceptable for public library workers to fear threat or injury resulting from anti-social behaviour in their place of work.
The public needs and expects a modern, high-quality library service delivered by qualified library and information professionals. As information and reading take a more central role in all our lives, a qualified librarian is able to help people help themselves, learn, find work, get online and improve their life chances. This is the service that our members want to deliver, but the message from this report is that they are being prevented from doing so by a lack of resources and the under-valuing of their professional skills.
We commend the aims set out in the strategy for public libraries in Scotland and call on authorities and policymakers to ensure that this opportunity is not lost and that library workers are not put at risk through systematic under-investment.
CILIP in Scotland were full participants in the development of Ambition and Opportunity, the National Strategy for public libraries in Scotland, and are part of the Implementation Group, where we will be working alongside local authorities and policy makers to ensure its aims are realised.
We call on library employers to operate with due regard to their legal and professional responsibilities to ensure that decisions on staffing and resourcing do not worsen the issues highlighted in the report.
As the report rightly points out, the public has a right to expect a modern, high-quality library service delivered by qualified professional librarians.