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Staffless libraries on a Sunday? The thin end of the wedge? September 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A dispute is emerging in Dún Laoghaire Library over the following:

Impact trade union has said its members will gather outside the library on Haigh Terrace, Moran Park, at 2pm to object to a decision by management to open the dlr Lexicon on Sundays without any library staff present.
Gerry O’Quigley, chairman of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Impact branch, told The Irish Times the decision was a “provocative and premature move” by management.

Staffless opening of libraries does not sound like a great idea to be honest. Part of the utility of a library is having people there to talk to about a range of issues – the idea that everything can be automated is problematic. The arrival of self-service automated kiosks is one thing – though its notable to me how often some of them can be out of service. But going further is of considerable concern.

Notably the union – Impact, isn’t too exercised by Sunday opening, but I wonder if that’s hugely necessary. Frankly I’d sooner see libraries open on Saturdays of Bank Holiday weekends throughout the year rather than close as they now do. But even beyond that once a library is open on a Saturday and five other days of the week that should accommodate those whose working times are less social.


1. fence - September 25, 2016

It’s not just Dun Laoghaire. Open Libraries, or Staffless Libraries (how you refer to them can sometimes indicate whether you’re in favour of not) are being rolled out across the country. The pilots were in Offaly & Sligo. And of course Sligo is a prime example of lack of staffing and resources. There are closures there.

Offaly has also been hit by staff cuts, but I haven’t heard so much about reduction in hours there. But stats show that something like 9% of visits happened when the library was technically closed. Not really a ringing endorsement.

Expect more movement on the front though, grants are now available for library authorities to convert existing libraries to “open/staffless” ones so there should be more being rolled out across the country in the coming year.


WorldbyStorm - September 25, 2016

That’s not good news fence, but useful to know where the situation stands across the state.


2. Ian - September 25, 2016
3. Joe - September 25, 2016

I spent the first half of my working life working in Dublin’s public libraries. Your days off are precious. We used to work every second Saturday and get the Friday off. And we’d work two lates during the week – so start about 12, finish at 8. It was only when I got a Mon-Friday nine to five that I realized how handy it is to have those kind of regular hours.
So most people I worked with were dead against Sunday opening, not wanting to work on a Sunday. I was more of the line that if they made us an offer, time and a half or whatever for a Sunday, and if it was voluntary, why not?
It seems the top dogs have come up with a better idea now. Driverless buses and trams, staffless libraries. Where will it all end?


WorldbyStorm - September 25, 2016

Peopleless ‘democracies’.

Liked by 1 person

4. 6to5against - September 26, 2016

The staff-less opening is a worry all right, but there’s been something very right about the library service in and around Dublin over the last decade or so.

There have been new, or extensively renovated libraries opened in Balbriggan, Rush and Malahide over that period, and they’re wonderful places. Beautiful buildings, full of life and adding life to the streets surrounding them, decent collections, helpful staff, varied opening hours. They’re good too at expanding their remit: DVD and music collections, art pieces that can be borrowed, PC access, book clubs, local history tie-ins.

I’m sure they’ve had their problems over this time, and I’m quite sure there was pressure on the service. It wouldn’t have been surprising over this time to see it starved of resources and slowly wound-down. But there must be somebody in there – or more likely a group of people – who really believe in what they’re doing and have been willing to fight their way through endless funding meetings and management bullshit sessions to keep the show on the road.


Joe - September 26, 2016

Yep, it’s a great service. Uneven development around the country – depending I’d say on the priorities of county managers and as you say, 6 to 5, on the ability of librarians in the different councils to influence same managers.
The new thing is that county managers have now been rechristened chief executive offiers. And all the department of local gvt (or whatever it’s called) is interested in is the bottom line. They only see libraries as a cost and some CEOs are only too happy to go along with that view.


5. D_D - September 26, 2016

Surely it’s a straight industrial issue. Like running a factory on a Saturday without any of the usual workers. No, no, no!


CMK - September 26, 2016

Reading these stories I have to wonder if I’m in a parallel universe or something. Does the IMPACT representative not think that this kind of this, ya know, might merit industrial action? In Britain the ConDem coalition made great play of turning local authority libraries over to unpaid ‘volunteers’ instead of paid workers, but, for once, we appear to be ahead of the Brits and have gone straight for the no-worker library! If a union can’t fight this then that union has no reason to call itself a union.

Liked by 1 person

D_D - September 26, 2016

Exactly, CMK. You can’t get any more basic than this. Doing your job without you! Unimaginable twenty years ago in a union job.


sonofstan - September 27, 2016

on that volunteer thing; a lot of OPW sites run that way, much to the annoyance of people in the museum sector with actual expertise.


6. Dr. X - September 27, 2016

Surely there would be big, big question marks over security (of both persons and property) in an open, but unstaffed library?


7. fence - September 27, 2016

There will be a ballot on it, IMPACT have given library staff notice of this. They are anti Open Libraries, but I think that they will be given the go ahead at govt. level because it plays well. Longer open hours, friendly to people who work shifts, or in commuter towns. Especially in country areas where maybe people aren’t around the town/village during the day.

And yes, big questions over security. I mean, if you have to hire security then why not actual library staff?! Both would be a plus of course.

Liked by 1 person

8. WorldbyStorm - September 27, 2016

“Both would be a plus of course.”



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