Re-design of North Ayrshire library service is paused to allow more community feedback

A major review of the North Ayrshire School Library Service has been delayed by councillors at a cost of £100,000 to allow wider engagement with campaigners, schools and parents.

We revealed in March that furious school pupils in North Ayrshire had launched a petition to save librarians at risk of the axe.

It comes as council chiefs prepare to carry out a review of staffing levels in school libraries over the coming months, with a new structure originally due to come into effect by August.

Currently there are five librarians across secondary schools in the region. One of the proposals from the budget was that only two term-time jobs would remain within the school library service.

A special motion was agreed at Wednesday's full council meeting which read: “Council agrees to delay the current library re-design, planned for August 2024, to allow further work to be done on the development and communication of the replacement model.

“Implementation will be delayed until January 2025 at a total cost of £100,000, which will come from the renewable energy contribution agreed by council.

“A paper setting out the new operating model will be brought back to council at the earliest opportunity.”

Education Cabinet member, Shaun Macaulay, said: "The proposals in the Budget meeting at the end of February included a school library re-modelling, which included a re-design of the libraries and to have engagement with schools and pupils and parent councils.

"It came to my attention recently because I got a lot of correspondence through from the campaign to save our school libraries and from parent councils and from parents to say they weren't happy with the current situation.

"We reflected on that, we looked at it and wanted to make sure that people felt included in the decision-making process.

"We have passed a motion to change the implementation date from August to January because we make sure we engage and we communicate effectively with schools and pupils and parent councils.

"A lot of stuff on social media said we wanted to close school libraries. It has never been our intention to do that - other local authorities in Ayrshire have closed school libraries.

"We really value them and want to keep them open. But we need to be realistic with the funding envelope being reduced. There are difficult choices to take.

"We have absolutely prioritised engaging with pupils and parent councils to come up with a model so they feel included in part of that decision.

"This didn't come lightly, this was £100,000 we have invested in order to do this so we have listened to the campaign, parent councils and schools in communication work over coming months.

"We want a sustainable model for school library provision in North Ayrshire."

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