The independent London newspaper

Westminster Libraries staff are underpaid, overstretched and in despair after cuts

07 April, 2017

• COUNCILLOR David Harvey (Chinese service, Letters, March 24) is either naïve or ill-informed if he truly believes that Chinese community provision, or for that matter any other part of Westminster Libraries “will continue to provide the same high quality service” after the latest devastating cuts.

Ms Li is one of about 30 experienced library professionals who have had little option but to accept redundancy or retirement, draining Westminster of vast reserves of expertise, while the surviving librarians have had their qualifications disregarded and, for the most part, have been demoted with substantial salary reduction.

Presumably such action is (inexplicably) permissible in law, but it is certainly morally reprehensible!

All libraries now have fewer front-line staff but are expected to keep the service open and effective for the same number of hours.

Overstretched, underpaid, unappreciated and demotivated, is it any wonder that they are demoralised and in despair? Goodwill, pride and enthusiasm in their work, so essential for a high-performing service, are utterly extinguished.

The message from council spokespeople is always the same: austerity plus cuts equals no reduction in service. The sums just don’t add up!

If it really is necessary to reduce staff numbers and expenditure, the council should face up to the inevitable consequences and reduce library opening hours as well, in order to protect the health and wellbeing of its remaining workforce.

Only thus can some semblance of quality service be salvaged for all those who live, work and study in the city, as required by the Public Library Act of 1964.



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