Libraries update – a rep writes…

UNISON Libraries Rep Tim Stanton writes:

UNISON West Sussex believes that public library services should be sufficiently resourced and professionally staffed. Volunteers may have a role to play such as assisting with the Housebound Reader Service, or assisting with specific initiatives such as the ‘Summer Reading Challenge’ or the ‘West Sussex and the Great War’ project.

We do not believe that West Sussex County Council Library Service should use volunteers as a cost-cutting exercise or to make up for the loss of staff through cuts and redundancies. Volunteers should only be used in a limited number of circumstances to complement the work of paid staff. We would view a scenario where volunteers are used for job substitution, either outright or to cover for staff absence, very seriously.

UNISON West Sussex wants relations between paid staff and volunteers at a local level to be constructive, with everyone understanding everyone else’s role, ensuring that staff and volunteers can work together effectively.

UNISON West Sussex will monitor the use of volunteers in libraries to ensure that if they are effectively working to a contract, then volunteers should be treated as a worker and be able to claim employment rights including the correct rate of pay for the job.

It remains our members’ view that the way to deliver high quality and fully accountable public library services is to employ professional staff, pay them properly, and make sure they are trained and developed.

If you would like to discuss the Library service with me, the use of volunteers in Libraries, or about becoming a Rep in your Library, please get in touch at

Tim Stanton
Crawley Library