Edinburgh libraries under threat, say campaigners

By staff writers
March 4, 2012

Edinburgh’s library services are threatened with cuts to the service overall, including reductions in hours, community and trade union activists say.

A public meeting has been organised at Macdonald Road Library, Edinburgh EH7 4LU, on Monday 5 March, from 6.15pm to 7.45pm with UNISON and local authors speaking.

Fiona Menzies of Edinburgh East Save Our Services says: "Though it has been pretty much unreported in the media, there have been big cutbacks in staffing over the last few months and now there is a ‘consultation’ over opening hours - which does not appear to be all that it seems."

The consultation leaflets talk about providing ‘a library service that meets the needs of its customers’.

However, says Ms Menzies, "when you look closely at the suggested new opening hours and compare them with the previous ones, they typically represent a 20% cut."

Temporary and agency staff have also had their contracts terminated. There have been cuts to the newly developed Drumbrae Hub, and the 2011/12 book budget has been slashed back, say critics.

"We are proposing to start a public campaign based on calling for the staffing cuts to be reversed and the maintenance of existing opening hours," she explains.

User and author Ken MacLeod told STV News: “Free public libraries have been important to me all my life. Any cut in library services is a hit on the self-education and self-directed entertainment of everyone, and particularly on those who can least afford to lose them.”

Greater Leith Against the Cuts is backing the public meeting. The campaign group Save Our Services - Edinburgh Against Privatisation is promoting it on its Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Our-Services-Edinburgh-Against-Privat...

Anti-cuts campaigners say that the library threat is part of a wider trend. Last year campaigners fought off a multi-million pound privatization bid by Edinburgh City Council.

Council street cleaners are angry about the fact that private contractors were recently brought in to carry out work they were originally offered. A private company has been given the £500,000 contract for cleaning in Leith.

A council employee told the Scotsman newspaper last month: “The management put a notice up for 12 days’ overtime, which we had the option to work on our days off, but after two days they took it down and we found out Enterprise were going to be brought in."

He added: “We actually had to find out from an agency worker rather than the management. The council is always on about saving money but surely it would be cheaper to pay us.”

* The 'Edinburgh’s Library Services are under threat' public meeting takes place at Macdonald Road Library, Edinburgh EH7 4LU, on Monday 5 March 2012, from 6.15pm to 7.45pm.


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