Scottish islanders’ video protest after council scraps school librarians

Pupils from a remote Scottish island have recorded a video protesting against their local authority’s decision to remove all secondary school librarian posts.

Last month, Argyll and Bute Council, one of Scotland’s most rural authorities, agreed to remove the 10 posts, which will eventually save it £319,000 a year.

This was despite the idea stirring up huge controversy, with critics including well-known authors Christopher Brookmyre, Debi Gliori and James Robertson. Gliori contrasted the move with the billions of pounds spent on locating Trident nuclear weapons in Argyll and Bute.

The new video includes several pupils from Tobermory High School on the Isle of Mull speaking about the importance of the school librarian. The 230-pupil all-through school includes the only secondary provision on the Isle of Mull. The island has no public library and fewer than 3,000 permanent residents. Pupils also use the video to talk about the council cutting the island’s mobile library service, which helped bring books to Mull’s primary schools.

“Without the library I feel I would really struggle,” says one boy at the school, which takes children from nursery levels upwards. A girl says the library would be “chaotic” without the orderly presence of a librarian, while another boy fears there would be a “much different atmosphere in the school…you just wouldn’t be able to pick the right book without her help”.

The action group, which says that Mull and Iona are in the worst 3 per cent of Scottish post codes for geographic isolation, is investigating whether there is a legal requirement for local authorities to provide libraries.

Argyll and Bute Council has acknowledged the strength of feeling about school librarians, while adding that it has “no option” in a time of reduced funding.

Mull is best-known beyond Scotland as the setting for pre-school children’s television programme Balamory.

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