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Does anyone else work in a library that is being downsized? I ask… - Librarians & Library staff in the UK

About Does anyone else work in a library that is being downsized? I ask…

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Does anyone else work in a library that is being downsized?

I ask because I'm finding it hard to sit-by watching book stock being weeded, for not being used within 6 months.

To see what little stock we have left squashed on to less and less shelving space until there isn't anywhere to put it and the solution is to pile books onto top of each other like we were some discount bookshop or a school jumble sale.

Management's response is to say that it's all part of the "modernisation of the council's library service", but all that means is that counter staff are replaced with self-issue machines and computers are wheeled in to replace the books.

Watching all this, I wonder why I became a librarian, when what I'm working is more akin to an internet cafe than a library.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 23rd, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
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Do you know of anyone working in a library that isn't being downsized? I don't.
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From:erinleighralph
Date:November 23rd, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
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This is just a reality in librarianship and libraries. Obviously you view it as unfortunate, but I've seen it as a great opportunity to learn about other high-quality information services I can provide to my clients. It's also given many of my colleagues the opportunity to learn to instruct and teach our clients how to assess quality of information for themselves.

Libraries always change, it's our jobs to adapt with them.
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From:barking_watcher
Date:November 23rd, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
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I would share your optimism, unfortunately the majority of our computer users aren't interested in exciting new information services. They are mostly using their free internet access to view Youtube, download MP3's or play online games.

I had hoped to be able to balance what I saw as traditional library work while working along-side online resources, but the library managers don't see that potential.

It's a case of books out, computers in and library assistant's downgraded to little more than shelf stackers. Even those in more senior positions don't have the opportunity to do the kind of work you describe, because the council I work for have kept staffing levels at the bare minimum for so long that there's hardly enough people to keep all the branches open, so their duties tend to be catching up with admin and rota juggling just to ensure each particular stays open for that day.

I wish I could see the future with your optimism, but from where I'm looking there's no option to adapt because that doesn't fit in with management plans, because despite all the lip service to being investors in people and working to improve the community all they're concerned with is how many people have been into the library and if adding more computers for the Youtube viewers and the downloads is what it takes that that's what they will provide.
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From:erinleighralph
Date:November 23rd, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
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I work in academic libraries so perhaps that's a lot of difference. I live and work in Canada but did my graduate degree in the UK and I would agree that the atmosphere there (in Scotland, specifically) is fairly utilitarian.

In our system, yes library assistants are largely shelvers and circulation clerks. Our librarians are subject specialists and work primarily in administrative capacities, most having 2 masters degrees. Working in public librarianship is perhaps the most difficult - the public is not often demanding of information requiring evaluation and perhaps that's where we (academics) have been able to find a niche.

I'm sorry you feel your position is so hopeless. Have you considered moving to another library or information service where you will feel more fulfilled?
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From:barking_watcher
Date:November 24th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
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I did start out working for a university library, but they had to close a campus and were starting to rely on self-issue terminals on top of looking for staff to take early retirement or voluntary redundancy.

As BA graduate I had been given training to become a periodicals librarian but that was stopped when they assigned the role to an existing member of staff.

Not long after that I began job hunting to find something more suitable but having only got a 3rd I wasn't thought good enough to get a graduate trainee elsewhere and was considered over qualified for most library assistant jobs.

That was 5 yrs ago, for most of that time I've worked as a temp mostly doing work in public libraries and for one fortunate 18 month period I worked in a hospital library.

Unfortunately I think that all public sector libraries are suffering. The organisations that run them can no longer afford to make the investments in them.

Perhaps I could have moved over to a private job, such a law firm or some such place, but I couldn't see the appeal in such a stagnant environment.
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