Initial Response to Libraries Review Staff Consultation

UNISON Response to Accommodation Office Options Review (FBC)


Initial Response to Libraries Review Staff Consultation

28th July 2016


This is Barnet UNISON’s first response to the Council’s current Consultation with staff regarding the proposed restructure of the Library Service.  The Council has yet to provide UNISON or Library workers with accurate costings for the proposed posts. The Job Descriptions for the proposed posts in the new structure were also delayed in being supplied to UNISON. Additional responses focusing on these issues and the job selection process will follow at a later date as we consult further with our members.

UNISON remains fundamentally opposed to the Library Restructure which is driven by an ideological push to privatise regardless of the financial cost, or the price that library workers will pay in lost jobs or the lowering of the quality, accessibility and safety of the Service. » Read more

Defend the 10 libraries campaign – Message of Solidarity

‘Defend the 10 libraries campaign in Lambeth sends solidarity to all the library workers taking strike action this week to stop the destruction of the library service in Barnet.

With cuts, closures and privatisation of our library services up and down the country we know how important it is to stand up and fightback. Your action will not only help in the battle to stop Barnet’s plans but will also give heart to everyone who wants to see an end to the ongoing devastation of vital library services.

We wish you all the best! Your fight is our fight!’

Michaela Loebner  Defend the 10, Lambeth



Message of Solidarity from Barnet Alliance For Public Services & Save Barnet Libraries

“BAPS and Save Barnet Libraries support your strike action and hope to see you on the picket line. As you know our two groups have been campaigning to save the library service since the first dreadful plans were put forward. We understand the value of trained professionals, and appreciate that it is your skills and experience that have provided the high-quality service that we have enjoyed and depended on. We deplore the cuts in space, material resources and, above all, in your jobs.

We are still working on the campaign and stand shoulder to shoulder with you.”

In solidarity.



Unstaffed Libraries – Unsafe and Unproven

Barnet UNISON Press Release: 31 March 2016 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Unstaffed Libraries – Unsafe and Unproven

 Barnet Council has used the examples of Denmark, Leeds and Peterborough to support their plan to replace Library workers with unstaffed libraries (Open+). Barnet UNISON exposed how the Danish use of unstaffed library opening differed from the Barnet plan. » Read more

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: A Warning for Our Libraries

Barnet Libraries are suffering major problems with IT. This has meant that the Open+ (unstaffed opening) pilot at Edgware Library has been suspended, inconveniencing the few people who use that site during the additional opening hours, but there are serious implications for the future operation of our libraries

If a similar failure occurs after the Council’s Library proposal is implemented, it will cause an almost complete shutdown of the Library Service. » Read more

Open Plus/Staff less Libraries – Danish Union response

Statement from Tine Jorgensen, Chair of the Danish Union of Librarians

“Libraries play a crucial role in a modern, democratic society as cultural, social and educational institutions. Libraries offer access to information, literature (fiction and non-fiction) and digital resources and engaging the population in active citizenship regardless of social and economic differences.

Libraries support learning activities in terms of reading, information seeking and validation of search results. Studies show that children who are keen readers in their spare time read considerably better than those who do not show interest in reading.  Librarians support this with their knowledge of books and reading levels.

Libraries also play a role in terms of digital resources. When the Danish Business Authority introduced the digital mailbox the libraries and library staff supported the digital strategy by offering assistance and learning activities for the citizens


Therefore self-serviced or unstaffed libraries are only to be seen as an enhancement of the opening hours, not as a replacement for the important tasks that librarians, information professionals and other library workers perform every day.”

John McDonnell pays tribute to Barnet UNISON members and Save Barnet Libraries campaign


“ I want to pay tribute and send solidarity greetings to Barnet UNISON and Save Barnet Libraries campaign for their sterling efforts to expose and prevent the proposed widespread decimation of their Library service. The combination of strike action and the recent legal challenge is an inspiration to all of us fighting austerity policies up and down the country.”

John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor


Libraries proposal could impact on health outcomes and crime

“Binge reading & Under-age reading!”

Word is out amongst our members working in Libraries that the current fantasy library proposals could rapidly lead to potentially serious medical conditions for Barnet Library users which could add further pressure on our local NHS services and an increase in crime.

“Binge reading” – health risks

Staffless Libraries will mean limited access to Barnet Libraries for children under 16 and people with disabilities. Our library workers believe this will inevitably lead to an outbreak of “binge reading”.

“It’s just an awful condition which leaves the customer badly in need of a regular fix of more and more books. They get really desperate and just any book will do. It’s sad to see, they don’t care, it could be fiction, non-fiction, or even magazines. I knew one customer who only read hardbacks, but once he began binge reading he was taking anything he could get his hands on. I just don’t think our Council realises the risks it’s taking with their Library proposals” (Anonymous Barnet Library worker)

Under-age reading & crime 

Barnet Library staff have reported their concern that as a result of restricted access for children under 16 to their local Library, there could be an increase of underage reading. One worker who wanted to remain anonymous said:

“It’s sad really, that the council has promoted a policy which could lead to underage reading. It leaves children at risk of exploitation. The idea that book pushers could populate the streets of Barnet is frightening. We know book pushers will not supply quality books, quite often it is cheap, poor quality books. But the books they push are addictive. I worry for young people, they should have access to high quality books available in a safe environment.”

John Burgess UNISON Branch secretary said:

“We have repeatedly warned the Council of the serious health and anti-social behaviour risks that could quickly sweep across our local communities. I believe there are well researched reports detailing the impact of binge reading on health outcomes which inevitably bring unwelcome pressure on an already overloaded NHS. The Council also refuses to accept the risk of increased crime as a result of under-age reading. The prospect of book pushers on the streets of Barnet fills me with dread. That is why I would encourage library lovers wherever you are to view this excellent Save Barnet Libraries Animation here and Sign our Save Barnet Libraries Petition here



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