In a rage over retraining

I was outraged to read in TheSouthern (December 29) that Councillor Graham Garvie and other council members have decided to “retrain” staff from contact centres to work in libraries (not primarily a cost-cutting exercise?) which just demonstrates their ignorance regarding the work of a librarian or library assistant.

To become a librarian you first have to complete a degree course and to become a library assistant you generally have to hold an HNC/HND in library and information sciences.

But above all, in order to want to work in a library environment you must have a love of books, a good knowledge of authors and their genre, and be familiar with book stock etc. in order to provide a high quality of service to the general public. Therefore, I fail to see how admin staff can just be “retrained” without devaluing the above qualifications and providing a poorer service – and besides, I can’t imagine what they can be retrained to do.

Most libraries nowadays have self-issue and self-return machines. Individuals can request books and renew books online themselves. Book repairs can be done, but not book binding, a skill in itself. Of course there’s always shelving and checking and tidying, though not enough, I suspect, to keep all those contact centre staff employed – and besides, what are the current library assistants to do when the all those general tasks are removed from their remit? Retrain as councillors perhaps?

Beth Barclay


I don’t disagree with all of what Tim Clancy says (letters, January 5) and I do realise that there is deep-rooted public disquiet about any possible closure or cut in hours at our public libraries in the Borders.

Public libraries were never opened to make money and by the very nature of the beast they cannot run at a profit. No matter what the present administration at Scottish Borders Council says, this, like the ill-fated “revue” of swimming pools by the same department, is all about saving money.

Where Mr Clancy and I disagree is that reports from council meetings are sometimes not as accurate as they should be.

All six SNP councillors did not vote along with the administration. Councillor John Mitchell was not present, so could not vote, and I asked for my own dissention to be recorded as I could not vote for any changes at Selkirk which had not and still have not been fully assessed and taken through a proper consultation with the people of Selkirk. That request was granted and it is minuted that I recorded my dissent.

It was also pointed out, rightly, that the overall “consultation process” is not yet complete and that the libraries which have not been included in the first phase should be and will be included in the same process. That means that libraries in Galashiels, Hawick and Peebles, to name but three, will have to be assessed before the process is fully finalised.

Kenneth Gunn

(SNP councillor for Selkirkshire)