By Anne De'Ath
Since joining the Great School Libraries Campaign I have gained some awareness about the state of our profession in Scotland. I wanted to be absolutely clear about how well Scotland is served by school librarians, so I contacted both CILIP and the SLG for up-to-date information.
I can now say honestly that the level of school librarian provision is chaotic. Indeed it really is a postcode lottery.
In addition to this, recently four Scottish Councils proposed further changes to their school librarians Library Services when giving their budget:
Thankfully Midlothian now expects to retain their school librarians whilst looking for other savings elsewhere. The Council hopes to clarify the situation later on in the year.
East Renfrewshire has notified their four school librarians that, whilst nobody will suffer from compulsory redundancy, they will all be offered voluntary redundancy.
Inverclyde will replace all their school librarians with Public Library Assistants. However, if none are available there will be no service.
East Dumbartonshire will cut the school librarians so that they provide a three day not a five day service.
I joined the Campaign for various reasons. I feel passionately about the role school librarians play in Education. So I hope to use the Campaign to promote their excellent work. Indeed, our website illustrates a number of amazing case studies from across the whole school library spectrum. However, I’ve also been trying to use the Campaign to support the profession and reduce the Councils’ ability to cut the services. Over the last few months I (and many friends) have been contacting various groups. These include politicians (MPs, MSPs, Councillors) and authors, poets, pupils and parents to promote the Campaign and then explain the negative impact of cutting Scotland’s school librarians. Many individuals are deeply concerned about cuts to our profession but first they need to know that jobs are under threat. Once aware of that they can take to social media, write to newspapers and speak to their local MP about the issue.
Our recently launched report, "Equal futures? An imbalance of opportunities”, clearly illustrates the situation today both in the UK and the developed nations.
It also provides a template for contacting your MP etc. Now more than ever school librarians must SHOUT about what we do.
We also need to find supporters who advocate and support school library provision. By constantly promoting and demonstrating the importance of our educational role we can make sure that our profession develops and continues to support future generations in Scotland.