In response to last week’s letter from Beth Barclay of Darnick regarding the training and qualifications of staff who will be working in the council’s new integrated library/contact centres, I should like to clarify some possible misunderstandings.
Firstly, for all library service points – be they one of the six stand-alone library sites or one of the six integrated sites – the management of the library service will remain the responsibility of professionally qualified librarians who will continue to manage and develop the council’s library and information services. Contact centre staff will not be retrained to take on the role of professionally qualified librarians.
Secondly, with regard to library assistants, specific qualifications are not required for front-line staff recruited to library and contact centres.
The entry level qualifications for library assistants and for contact centre services advisers are very similar. Both are based on the applicant possessing a minimum number of Standard Grades – three for library assistants and five for contact centre advisers. And both require a commitment to personal and professional development.
As with any job, skills, knowledge and experience are built up over time, and training will enable staff in both services to become proficient in carrying out library and customer service transactions, and in the use of computers and IT systems. There is no essential requirement for specific library qualifications for current library assistants, and few of the current library assistants hold an HNC/HND in library and information sciences.
In the six integrated sites, the roles of the current library assistants and contact centre advisers will be combined and staff will receive appropriate training so that they can undertake the relevant duties of their new post.
By restructuring and combining these elements of the council’s information-providing services, we believe that we have taken steps to protect the long-term sustainability of these important services in our local communities.
Finally, let me emphasise that all of my life I have always found going to a library a magical experience. I still do. They are very special places of exploration, imagination and self-development, with ready access to immeasurable knowledge and information.
And thanks to a precious legacy from Andrew Carnegie, they remain available free of charge to all. And for certain, during my watch, not only will they remain so, but also not a single public library will close in the Borders.
Councillor Graham Garvie
(executive member for culture, sport and community learning,
Scottish Borders Council)