Leaked Report Shows Further Library Cuts Planned
Fears that reduction in staffing could affect Local Studies and Archives
A radical shake up of how libraries are run by Hounslow Council could see voluntary redundancies and staff having to work across library 'hubs' to cover for shortages.
A confidential review of the structure and resources of the Library Service has been carried out and a copy of the report has been shown to ChiswickW4.com. It proposes not only voluntary redundancies, but changes in how staff are deployed across the service.
There are also concerns that staffing changes could affect specialist areas such as Local History and Archives where at least one full time position is proposed to be reduced.
While Hounslow Council has said it does not intend to close any of the borough's 11 libraries- of which Chiswick is the second busiest- it is faced with having to make £1.1million in financial savings. A reduction in posts will be needed to meet the need for savings.
One example of changes in job description is the post of a Specialist and Outreach Manager, who would look after four areas, Archives and Local Studies, Library At Home, Prisons and Schools and Children's Services. The Council review proposes only one full time senior post for Local Studies and Archives, helped by an assistant. One concerned individual told chiswickw4.com that would be a blow to family historians, students and those researching a variety of subjects from local archives. "It would be a great deal of pressure on the reduced staffing level and could mean staff untrained in local archive skills having to work in the area."
Library staff are concerned about cuts to the service budget and while they are aware of how important libraries are to local residents, some branches suffer from poor footfall, outdated IT equipment, and a lack of staff. Recently two libraries in the borough, one of them Chiswick, had to close early because of 'unforeseen circumstances'.
Staff have also told the Council they are concerned about safety, and one proposal is for three multi-skilled library attendants who would undertake security and support roles in Chiswick, Heston and Feltham, in two of the new 'library hubs' proposed. Applications for voluntary severance are being sought from staff.
Hounslow Council has highlighted that things have changed with the arrival of more online services, with people accessing reading materials and information differently. There is less use of traditional library facilities and the Council believes the service needs "to innovate, to stay relevant."
An estimated 380,000 people used Chiswick Library per year, The building was originally a residential property converted to a library use with a late 1930's extension.
March 26, 2018