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Revealed: 17 jobs axed in library services

PUBLISHED: 11:52 03 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 07 September 2010

Tan Parsons A TOTAL of 17 jobs will be cut across library services under controversial proposals set out by Camden Council, the Ham&High can reveal. According to a leaked document 144 positions, including senior archivist and children, young people and

Tan Parsons

A TOTAL of 17 jobs will be cut across library services under controversial proposals set out by Camden Council, the Ham&High can reveal.

According to a leaked document 144 positions, including 'senior archivist' and 'children, young people and schools manager' will be 'deleted' and replaced with 127 far-ranging roles, 120 of which fall under 'libraries customer services officer'.

Last month the council defended its draft proposals, saying an overhaul was needed to bring library services out of a "timewarp". But critics have labelled the job cuts a disgrace.

John Richardson, from the Camden History Society, said: "For the libraries to lose a senior archivist would be a disgrace. Camden has one of the best local history departments in the country. It's appalling they are aiming to reduce the level of service at this stage."

Labour councillor Theo Blackwell said that cutting jobs to save costs could not make library services better. "Residents have come to cherish Camden's libraries and staff because what they do is over and above Government targets," he said.

"When there are jobs that have intentionally not been filled by the council it opens them up to the charge of running down the service from something excellent to a very stripped-down sub-standard model.

"Libraries are very important for a lot of people who don't live in large houses and for people introducing their kids to an environment where there are books.

"They are popular with families from all communities and give children in overcrowded homes a space to do their homework. It's not just about bricks and mortar - it's about people who can help other people access books."

The council's culture tsar Cllr Flick Rea dismissed the criticism, saying it was "nonsense" to have 25 different job descriptions across the library service.

"You basically have librarians, assistant librarians and possibly assistants to the assistant librarians. They don't have specialised roles," she said.

"Most of the posts that will go or are scheduled to go are in the middle management area. It doesn't mean to say there will be no librarians in libraries."

She said some of the 17 jobs scheduled to be cut are currently vacant or have been filled by temporary staff.

She said: "I am sympathetic to people losing their jobs. However, some people are coming up to retirement.

"No-one wants to lose their job and no-one likes getting rid of people, but I'm more concerned with the future of our library service and to do that, it's got to have a rethink. It's about making sure the library system is fit for purpose and making sure people use our libraries."

A council spokeswoman added: "The 'growing your library' programme is about making the best use of available resources so we can better meet all our customers' needs in the most efficient way possible, while making savings over the long term. There may be some changes to the way librarians work but as we have always said, we will work hard to minimise redundancies."

The council is currently holding talks with library staff and unions over the scheduled job losses. The consultation closes on September 18.

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