Reports library staff are afraid to say anything about Auckland Council’s ‘Fit for the Future’ restructure has Albany ward councillor John Watson concerned over library staff morale.
In March, 74 library staff took voluntary redundancy, and 823 staff are in the process of reapplying for their jobs.
The new model, to be in place in July, is expected to result in savings of $1.8 million.
Watson said it’s clear staff are under a great deal of stress and he’s concerned about the negative impact.
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*Auckland Libraries staff will need to reapply for jobs
“In this sort of atmosphere people are going to feel vulnerable and ultimately devalued in their work.”
“Is that what we want for our library staff? In my experience the type of people who work in libraries are usually incredibly committed and go out of their way to help people.”
Watson said he’s particularly concerned staff are afraid to say anything about what’s going on in their work places.
“Some staff have said privately they’ve been told not to talk to the public.
“Attempting to muzzle people will only increase anxiety and suspicion in my view.”
While global trends show a downward trend in library usage, that’s not consistent across the board, Watson said.
“There are some community libraries that are bucking this trend and whose usage is increasing. To treat everyone the same is not necessarily going to work.”
While libraries are becoming more digitalised, people are tending to spend longer in them, meaning more personal attention is required from staff, not less, Watson said.
“Throw in rapidly increasing populations and it’s hard to see how reducing staff numbers can be anything other than a cost cutting exercise.”