School library outcry after council announces controversial cost cutting measure to personnel

North Lanarkshire Council has prompted a public outcry after it emerged over the weekend that it intends to scrap secondary school librarians.

School library
School library

A petition against the controversial cost-cutting move move which will affect 23 posts in total, has surpassed 1,000 signatures within a two day timeframe.

Started by Andrea Olukotun, the petition reads: “Imagine. Our young people reading for pleasure. It aids mental health, reduces stress and directly improves exam results – all proven facts. NLC’s policy to abolish school librarians is an assault on our young people reaching their potential. The human cost of this is unacceptable.

Reading for pleasure, as you know, is directly correlated with increasing academic attainment. Teachers cannot backfill this position they are not professional librarians, We must fight to save school librarians.

“NLC have been quick to promote the fact that some schools have recently attained Reading School status. It is interesting that they are now cutting our cherished librarians. Other councils are retaining their librarians – so must NLC.

A North Lanarkshire Council spokesperson explained that the decision had been made in 2020 as the council set its budget. They said: “As part of the budget process, the council agreed to remove 23 FTE Library Resource Manager posts from secondary schools as part of a move to integrate existing library services across schools and wider communities. This integrated service will provide wider access to library resources for young people across North Lanarkshire.

“Implementation was delayed by the pandemic, but in March, a review group was set up involving teaching and non-teaching staff and the trade unions. The group has consulted with pupils, teachers and headteachers and developed a plan to ensure the new model operates effectively and schools are prepared for new ways of working.

“Meetings have taken place with affected staff, who will be offered a range of options including voluntary redundancy and redeployment. There are currently six FTE vacancies in the service so this will involve 17 members of staff. The council is committed to continuing to deliver a high quality library services across its schools.”