Argyll and Bute school librarians: apology

In the past week For Agyll published information that, in the current straitened budgetary circumstances,  Councillors in the current administration of Argyll and Bute Council had sat down with headteachers and school librarians in the process of coming to a decision to cut much of school library services across Argyll and the isles; and that the suggestions on library service cuts had come from the librarians themselves.

This was fiercely resisted by the school librarians, all ten of whom insisted that they had never been directly consulted by the council.

For Argyll;’s information had come from a senior council source whose truthfulness and integrity we have not had  any reason to doubt.

In the light of the response from the librarians, we said that we would immediately revert to our source to clarify what had happened in the matter of pre-decision consultation with the school librarians; and we did so.

We asked specific questions for confirmation  as to whether any librarians were actually physically present and directly consulted at such a session; or whether some headteachers in the selected group involved had offered suggestions said to be ok with their librarians.

We have had no response from our source.

We still do not doubt that source’s truthfulness or integrity, although we now have good reason to doubt the accuracy of their understanding  – and their accounts – of events.

We read the silence that has met our questions as one of embarrassment at a less than complete understanding that had been given to us as fact.

The responsibility is ours for accepting what we were told as fact without the rigorous interrogation we would have applied to a less known or trusted source – and that is a lesson we take away from this.

We would therefore wish to offer the school librarians in Argyll and Bute our voluntary and unequivocal apology for the infuriating inaccuracy of what we innocently published.

We would also wish to put on the record that we have also received a wealth of warm and spontaneous reports from parents and pupils in Oban and Tobermory on Mull, for the calibre and academic value of the work the High School librarians in both places do with students at these schools.

What is easily forgotten is that librarians are not only librarians but a very specific type of teacher whose active engagement with the learning process sees them contribute initiatives and services that substantially enrich the interests and the capabilities of receptive students in their schools.

Pupils in Oban whose parents have to drop them off early at school, have reported that the librarian is at work and has the library open from 8am in the morning, making it a welcome and rewarding place to spend time in advance of classes ahead.

Pupils and parents in both schools reported on events and visits organised by the respective librarians to intrigue and inform pupils on specific issues.

It is important to remember that in the cuts to library services, it is the loss of this proactive and dedicated commitment from specialist graduate librarians that the affected pupils,  schools and wider communities face – and which many are  now actively fighting to resist.

The sister isles of Mull and Iona, for example, have simply said, very publicly, that they will not accept these cuts. Tiree is also in the lists of determined combatants.

Many – ourselves included – will be warmed by this evidence that , in a digital age of Twittering word-bites and short attention spans, books and book learning clearly remain a highly valued element of education and of continuing education.

Lynda Henderson, Editor

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Related Articles & Comments

  • This is exactly the same nonsense that happens every time the council claim to have ‘consulted with stakeholders’; invariably they have done nothing of the kind and just done what they fancied doing in the first instance, then issued a press release filled with fiction knowing that the lie gets around the globe before the truth gets its socks on.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

    db March 8, 2016 5:37 pm Reply
  • Argyll and Bute council – if Carlsberg did councils A&B would probably be the worst council in the Galaxy!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    Hugh Jazz March 8, 2016 7:29 pm Reply
  • Dear Ms.Henderson,

    I admire your integrity however,in this instance,I fear you are dancing on the head of a pin.
    Since arriving in Argyll, two years ago,I have been appalled at the lack of vision and general competence of Argyllshire administration.
    Is it Argyllshire’s ambition to have everyone that lives there working in the public sector,or the secondary unemployed,as we used to call it.
    I am sick to the back teeth of shelling out hard earned money in taxes to pay for luxuries such as School Librarians.When did it become mandatory to have a librarian in a school.When I was in school,teachers would take turns at lunch time to do library duties.
    I have a neighbour in Lorn who is a retired female headteacher.She gives anyone,within earshot,the impression that she knows everything,inside and out.Let the truth be known. This person could not,and will never have, the skill set to run a Conga line.She is one of the most obnoxious persons I have ever met and is another that demands this and that,without the slightest knowledge of how it’s going to be paid for.
    If I was to give advice to the people of Argyll,whom I am losing the will to live having to deal with them,get some worldly experience into local Government and forget the bliddy teachers,librarians,and all the rest of the bloated public sector and do it yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

    R.B Stoker March 8, 2016 7:45 pm Reply
    • If ‘Bram Stoker’, having moved to Argyll, does not find himself among people to his liking – he knows what he can do.

      Furthermore, it is extremely ironic that he seeks to characterise knowitalls as knownothings whilst couching his comments in ungrammatical langauge.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      emmet krull March 10, 2016 2:47 pm Reply
  • As soon as the news broke that the council was planning to terminate the school librarians it was was clearly going to be a very incendiary issue indeed, and the apparent misunderstanding over whether or not the council had consulted the librarians surely demonstrates the need for corroboration of anything as toxic as this before it is broadcast as fact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

    Robert Wakeham March 8, 2016 7:59 pm Reply
  • Most public libraries that I see are overstaffed and if the decision is to keep libraries open, then staff should be deployed onto other tasks. Libraries, instead of being simple repositories of books can be much much more. Internet cafes, with training and research support being one avenue. Some libraries are heading that way but very very slowly. And what about facilities to support local group meetings and the like. Or what about making books available on line. Or film nights. All issues tha I think have not fully been considered. In these hard pressed financial times I do not think we get full bang for our buck out of our libraries. But this is not a criticism of the library staff but rather criticism of the management who has failed to fully develop and move on the ‘ library ‘ service. Unless they move on, like printed copies of newspapers, time and technology will pass them by. Certainly seems that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    willie March 9, 2016 9:13 am Reply
    • Willie, so many of the suggestions you make in your post are absolutely spot on about public libraries, but this issue being discussed is about School Librarians.

      These are people that on the most part do work on their own (therefore can not be accused of overstaffing), plus they do provide access to internet as you suggested in your post, plus they teach learning and research skills to students, as well as coordinating with staff to provide the right resources to support the curriculum.

      They also arrange trips away for students, have guest authors come and talk to the students, and provide a safe and inviting environment for students to come and work both before, during and after school.

      They are highly qualified and experienced members of staff that are an asset to a school, hence the current outcry about the decision by A&BC to remove them all from their posts.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Rosy March 11, 2016 11:50 am Reply

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