I should stress from the outset that this was mentioned just as a possibility and that no decision or even firm proposal has yet been made.
I know I blogged a while ago saying that libraries are about more than books, but I am firmly opposed to the concept for a number of reasons:
- I believe that the library is inconveniently sited. It is up a steep slope, making it difficult for some people to walk there;
- It has very little parking (I know the same is true for the current OSS, but any move should have to bring an improvement);
- I do not believe that there is sufficient space in the library for all the OSS functions;
- Although the library is open on Saturday mornings (and presumably the OSS would be too), it is also closed for one day a week and so there would be a net reduction in OSS opening hours.
But there is also an additional reason why such a move is simply wrong in concept. That is that library staff will be expected to handle OSS work (and OSS staff will be expected to undertake librarian duties). This is because, in a bid to save money, the two staff currently employed at the OSS will be cut to just one.
The OSS staff are very well trained to do their job. Librarians are also very well trained to undertake their role. But neither is trained to do the job of the other. Our One Stop Shop is extremely busy and, by cutting down to a single member of staff, I can foresee librarians having to spend lots of time doing OSS work. They will therefore be able to do even less of what they are trained for and what they are good at - promoting literacy, reading and information.
In theory, there is no reason why a library and One Stop Shop cannot be sited in the same venue - and I know it works elsewhere. But such a venue should be genuinely big enough for both operations and their staffing should be kept separate. In Launceston's case, the library is simply not the right place to site the One Stop Shop. If this becomes a serious proposal then it will be being made purely for financial reasons and the people of Launceston will be getting a worse service as a result.