Campaigners have derided the decision by Scotland's Argyll and Bute Council to axe librarians from schools in the region as "utterly astonishing" and "disgraceful".
As part of an attempt to make £9m worth of savings from its budget in the next two years, the council made the decision to remove 10 librarians from schools in the region last Thursday (11th February), despite widespread protest from library campaigners and authors including Debi Gliori, James Robertson and Christopher Brookmyre.
Campaign group Save Scotland’s Libraries has said the impact this "outrageous" decision will have on school children will be "enormous". The group said: "The decision from Argyll and Bute council to remove all 10 school librarians is utterly disgraceful. There will be an enormous impact in schools and it is undoubtedly pupils who will suffer most from this outrageous decision. It is completely unfair that the pupils of Argyll and Bute will now become educationally disadvantaged from their peers elsewhere in Scotland."
The group added that the decision will also mean that pupils on the islands of Mull, Tiree and Islay will have "no access to a library service at all".
Gliori, a children’s author from Leasing, said: “This is a dreadful cost-cutting exercise. In the same authority as the new Trident missiles will be located, it’s unbelievable that at one end of Argyll there will be billions spent on weapons of debatable usefulness, and at the other, there will be a clawback of an essential resource which has time and again proven to be of life-changing value. We are living in the Age of Stupid.”
Elisabeth Ash, trustee of The Library Campaign, told The Bookseller that the decision is "extremely short-sighted".
She said: “How will school libraries function effectively without librarians to run and stock them? The loss of librarians is likely to mean increased pressure placed on teaching staff to help fill this role, or the use of volunteers which will most likely result in a fragmented offer for students. Self-serve machines cannot offer advice and guidance, which is often the very thing that students using libraries need to succeed in their studies."
Professional body, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) said the council's decision runs "counter to current national initiatives aiming to support and enhance literacy" and will inevitably lead to a "poorer overall educational experience for pupils".
A council spokesperson said: “We would like to be able to do everything that our communities want their council to do; reduced funding means that is just not possible. The council has no option but to make choices about what we do and how we do it."
The 10 librarians will lose their jobs at the beginning of the next financial year.