The Guardian July 26, 2000


State library staff's principled stand

by Magda Hansson

Three hundred and eighty staff at the NSW State Library are refusing to 
take over the jobs of their former colleagues.  The staff had been 
initially assured by management that they would not have to do the work of 
their departing colleagues but they have since been told to pick up the 
slack and "to get used to it".

As many as 61 staff are being made redundant. This represents about 15 per 
cent of the total staff and includes clerical staff and librarians.

The library management insists that core service will not suffer.

Other services at the library are expected to be cut such as internet 
services and opening hours reduced.

Regular users of the library say that services are already less than 
adequate.

It takes longer to get books from the stacks and if a book has been 
misplaced librarians do not have the time to locate it. Due to a policy of 
multi-skilling there has been a general dumbing down of skills and 
librarian's skills have been devalued in the process.

The imposition of shorter operating hours and reduced services within the 
library would hurt the users of the library, many of whom are researchers 
and students.

Many students are already forced to look elsewhere for their library 
material due to the inadequacy of campus libraries that have undergone 
massive budget cuts for many years.

In the case of the University of Western Sydney it was deemed more 
economically rational to dump thousands of books into landfill than to 
build somewhere to house them or even to give them away to students.

People can often travel long distances to be able use the resources 
available at the State Library and shorter opening hours would unduly 
restrict these users' access to the library and its services.

The Government was able to find another $40 million without question for 
the Olympic corporate juggernaut just days after it was announced that they 
had been fully paid for but when it comes to literacy and literature for 
the people of this State it seems that $1.3 million is too much to ask.

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