Save Doncaster Libraries is in touch with some members of library staff, who are having to deal with enquiries from the public which they’re not allowed to answer, at the same time as worrying for the future of their libraries and their own livelihoods. Little information is coming from the council, and this is having a major impact on the wellbeing of employees and the standard of service they are able to provide.
One major concern that staff have is that the consultation that has already begun with schools and Parish Councils effectively is pushing the option for libraries be left to be run by ‘the Big Society’ and community groups. One member of staff writes:
“My concern is that the wording [of the Mayor] in your report, leaves open the option for DMBC to pull staff from the affected libraries. It would enable them to say that they are still funding the libraries but that the local communities were not willing to take over the running of them. Equally the communities may attempt to run them but, as a worker there, I am concerned about my future employment.”
Those in charge of the service are failing to communicate with library staff, who are confused, demoralised and isolated:
“We really are treated like mushrooms in DMBC libraries with management and staff keeping their heads down and /or jockeying for position.
Most staff don’t want to say anything because they either don’t think ‘it will happen to them’, they don’t trust the management or they can’t trust their fellow workers. You may know we are under direct orders not to comment on anything concerning the cuts and there are enough rumors around in the service about how people get preference for sensible folk to think twice before voicing an opinion.
Soon the staff are going to be fighting amongst themselves over the few remaining jobs and hence doing the councils work for it.
I know I’m a cynic but I’ve been through this before and seen the effects on staff morale; dissolution, resignation, resentment and apathy.
As branch staff we have little contact with other staff – one of the problems of the lack of training opportunities and the sheer geographical size of Doncaster.”
This confusion, lack of information and lack of a communication network for staff is not only having an effect on the wellbeing of staff, but is also having an impact on the quality of service that can be delivered to the public. Unhappy and uninformed staff cannot provide good customer service, and staff are not allowed to give any anwers to questions about the future of the service – and there are many:
“Every day (in a branch) you are asked dozens of times ‘what is happening?’, ‘is this library affected?’, ‘what about your jobs?’. All we can do is speculate which, in theory, could lead to disciplinary action.”
Staff have suggested that Julie Grant, Assistant Director of Customer Services and ICT, could provide a contact number that staff could give out, so that worried library users could receive some kind of information about what is happening. One thing’s for certain – these cuts and closures, and the way the council is going about them, do not make for good customer service.