Not just a case of stamping and 'Sshh'-ing

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
Frances Smith Loudoun Academy, Galston, East Ayrshire

They say the only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it. Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if The TESS were to carry an article about school librarians - and, bingo, there it was on the front page last week: "Librarians face pay cuts"

Not a surprise perhaps, but seeing it in print gave me a jolt. North Lanarkshire, I knew, was already embroiled in the repercussions of the single status agreement, but I couldn't - wouldn't - think of it affecting me. But it was time to lose my ostrich-like tendencies. I spent the day close to tears.

Before anyone accuses me of selfishness, I am well aware that thousands of local authority workers face a similar fate. I am desperately sorry for them. But it's only natural for me to worry about how it will affect me and my colleagues. After all, it's not as if we're high earners. When did you last hear anyone say: "Go for a career in school librarianship, the pay's marvellous"? People don't go into it for the money; it's for the sense of doing something worthwhile for young people in education.

The single status agreement doesn't recognise that librarians have any educational input whatsoever. But educational input is our raison d'etre.

What did we go to university for? To learn advanced book-stamping techniques or how to say "Sshh" in a meaningful way? We're intelligent, professional people. And don't think the internet has made our information retrieval skills redundant; quite the opposite, in fact.

Cutting pay will make it harder to recruit high-calibre staff, not to mention squandering the goodwill of those in post.

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