Library Letters Part 3: Losing the heart and soul

Going through the FFF Library restructure process has been like a grief process. I hear all the time the lament that “things will never be the same again” even for those who keep their jobs and also for customers. What is under estimated by senior management is that if it effects the staff then it WILL have a flow on effect to customers. This is because at the center of a library are people. Without people and relationships and community what is left?

It was the staff team that putting the heart and soul into my library. I had the good fortune to have worked with an amazing group of people. Library staff are underpaid for what they do so most people who do the work do it because they are passionate. There are the creatives – people who found things in op shops for programs, built amazing things and got family members involved. Much of this work was outside work hours and it helped to create magic. Our team worked well because we had people with different strengths. We had our own speciality interests and also helped each other out when needed. There was not a feeling of separateness between librarians or library assistants. Everyone pitched in and there was a feeling of more or less equality. How sad it is that something that works so well is being destroyed. We continually had good feedback from customers.

This is going to change. With the new organisational chart, positions have been carved up and new “specialist” positions created. Community librarian, events librarian, heritage librarian. I guess some people will get a nice new specialist position but of course they will likely need to spread themselves between a couple of libraries. I envision a split occurring between the “specialist” more senior positions and the library assistants and network library assistants who will have to work even harder to do the core work of serving customers, processing books, shelving. No one has mentioned the reduction in shelving hours. Who will pick up that slack? This group of people are already disadvantaged because having less hours and now they will have more work. Oh yeah! more for less – there you go.

Management constantly have said there are “opportunities” for staff with the new roles. Yes but only for some. It will not be a team effort any more as different people will be working at different places at different times. Customers wont have any certainty in seeing the people they have grown to know and trust over the years.

In short the heart and soul is being ripped out by FFF.



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