IMPACT describes Sligo staffless library plan as ‘retrograde step’

BooksIMPACT assistant general secretary Richy Carrothers has said the union will not support the development of a staffless library project in Tubbercurry in Sligo. He said the plan is a retrograde step and has already been rejected or deferred in three of the original five locations selected for piloting the scheme. Sligo County Council announced a pilot scheme for Tubbercurry this week.

Richy commented “Kerry County Council declined to participate while Fingal and Dun Laoghaire Councils have deferred indefinitely their plans to open staffless libraries. Only Offaly and Sligo remain. The concept of staffless libraries is, we believe, part of a wider agenda to downgrade library provision and de-professionalise the service as national plans to amalgamate libraries continue to develop. The proposal to run libraries with no staff at certain times raises very real health and safety concerns, as well as child protection concerns.

“Employers have failed to negotiate with us in a meaningful way and have pushed ahead with implementation, effectively ignoring the views of our members. In this regard, IMPACT members will not be assisting with the role out or implementation of the staffless library project in Tubbercurry” he said.

Richy said that library staff would be informing library users about their concerns. In an information leaflet for distribution to library users, the union says “Our library service has remained a precious source of information and recreation for everyone in the community throughout the economic difficulties of recent years. We are genuinely concerned that the proposal to run staffless library opening hours in Tubercurry will erode the quality of the service provided to you. In other countries where this proposal has been tested, we’ve learned that staffed opening hours are further reduced, further eroding the library service.”

The leaflet encourages library users to inform their local elected representatives that a “library staffed by experienced and helpful staff cannot be replaced by an empty building with automated checkouts.”