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Published: 3 September 2009

Head of libraries Mike Clarke
New chapter: the ‘growing’ library payroll shrinks by 14

Out go librarians, in come ‘libraries customer service officers’

LIBRARIANS face job cuts after council chiefs announced at least 14 posts are set to be cut.
The Town Hall finally announced the exact number of potential job losses on Friday after months of speculation as part of the “Growing Your Library” overhaul of the service.
Librarians were given a briefing yesterday (Wednesday) by Fiona Dean, the council’s assistant director of culture, in the Camden Centre in King’s Cross.
The latest development comes as fears were raised about the future of the Local Studies Archive and other services based at Holborn Library in Theobald’s Road.
The New Journal has learned that parts of the site are in line to be sold off and that the council has yet to decide on a new home for the Archive.
Libraries in Camden are due to get their biggest ever facelift with sweeping changes to job titles and the introduction of self-service machines.
Although library chiefs have not officially released their draft of the consultation pack, a copy has been seen by the New Journal.
It shows that savings are partly expected to be made by “de-layering” at senior level, with only eight management posts set to be maintained under proposals developed by Mike Clarke, Camden’s head of libraries.
Jobs in the Bibliographic Services team, who order and catalogue the library stock, as well as van drivers, will both fall under a further review of the service due next year. If their jobs are axed, it could lead to a saving of just under £400,000 a year, according to the paperwork.
Under the plans currently on the desks of council managers, 143 posts will be “deleted” between November and February, and 127 recreated – leaving a shortfall of 15.
Early retirement and voluntary redundancies will be offered for those aged over 50, while those who stay must re-apply for their jobs.
In future, “librarians” will be known as “libraries customer service officers” or “LCSOs”, while Mr Clarke’s job title will change from “head of libraries, information and community learning” to “head of library customer services”.
The consultation pack, written by Mr Clarke, describes librarians’ new roles as “undertaking a range of functions at the core of which is the ‘hosting’ role, supporting customers’ use of the service [and] enabling people (including non-users) to make the most of libraries.”
Highgate librarian and Unison trade union steward Jonathan Marsh said yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) meeting still hadn’t cleared up some crucial questions. He added: “There will be 14 to 15 posts less. It still hasn’t been determined where those posts come from. We were concerned there would be enough staff to competently run the service. They said there would be once you get the RFID (self-service) machines.”
Cllr Rea said the proposals were still in the consultation phase and that some of the posts which are being deleted were not currently filled.
A council spokesman said: “We are considering options which might involve a moveº of the archives if better more suitable accommodation can be identified.“

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Dear Mr Clarke & Camden councillors,
What do you think you will achieve by re-designating librarians as “libraries customer service officers” or “LCSOs”, except perhaps use it as a mechanism to de-professionalise/cut your staff.I am fed up with a local government system that is allowed to use trendy titles to neutralise a service. And with job cuts of the over-50's, once again the 'glue' of many years of staff knowledge is lost. As a LIBRARIAN (!) who has always tried to work innovatively and in an inclusive manner, I think that our profession has always hosted the public. So why try to fix something that isn't broken?
Mike Howard


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