#34 Unions



Unions can be a thorny issue for librarians. Some may choose not to join at all, but for those who do there is no one obvious candidate.

Librarians basically have three choices if they decide to join a union:

  • Join a ‘teaching’ union.
  • Join a ‘professional’ union.
  • Join a generic trade union.


The first two offer added benefits by way of kudos and the librarian’s profile within the school. They also have disadvantages, in that the librarian is not the sole profession catered for. This is also a disadvantage with the generic trade union.

The bottom line is that there is no large trade union in the UK which caters exclusively for librarians.

Choices have to be made on several factors. Questions you should be asking are:

  • Does the union understand educational issues?
  • Will the union have expertise in representing issues related to children?
  • Does the union have any understanding of professional librarian issues?
  • Will the union negotiate for me on pay issues?
  • Will the union offer good support in the event of a dispute with a child, other staff or management?
  • Will the union be concerned with my working environment and conditions?

The individual librarian will have to weigh up these issues, decide which are the most important and choose an organisation accordingly.

See http://del.icio.us/librarianunions for a starting point for UK librarian unions.

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