PUPILS at North Ayrshire schools are up in arms over planned changes to their school library system.

North Ayrshire Council's budget for this year was passed at the end of last month with one cut referencing a “re-design of the council’s school library service”.

No further detail was provided at the time of the budget meeting, but a number of concerns have since been raised since the saving was passed by elected members.

And a petition has now been launched online protesting at the plans.

At present, there are five librarians across secondary schools in North Ayrshire - two of which are full-time with the remaining working on a part time basis.

One source has claimed that the re-design will "get rid of all the professionally qualified school librarians".

The same source claims the cut will mean that only two jobs will remain within the school library service, and current staff will need to re-apply for the remaining roles.

The source has also claimed that the two people appointed into these roles will “service” all the schools from somewhere other than a school - meaning no librarians would be in place at any secondary schools in North Ayrshire.

They added: "The head teachers were not informed of this at the meeting held to inform them of the proposed budget."

Pupils have also vented their anger at the current situation and have launched a petition to "save our libraries".

Posters have also been placed around schools to highlight the impact.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Posters have been raised around schools.

A pupil said: "The proposed cuts on libraries, particularly in schools, are incredibly detrimental to our communities.

"There is a large sum of money that directly goes towards library education schemes. When the libraries are gone how will young people have the ability to increase their comprehension skills?

"Pupils in North Ayrshire are already tackling English at lower comprehension levels than they were before the Covid pandemic.

"With this change implemented, children are doomed to fall lower and may end up having the level of a young primary school child in S3.

"It is undeniable that the pupils of all schools across North Ayrshire are critical of the council’s confirmed budget."

They added fears of what the future may also hold the valuable space in their schools currently occupied by the library.

The pupil added: "Our libraries are in the process of closing or being renovated into new rooms - taking a study space away from seniors who desperately need an area throughout study leave.

"This area can be utilised in so many ways with all of the educational materials the librarians provide with their budget.

"Pupils and teachers alike are worried about how the library will be reused - especially when the curriculum requires these areas.

"Classes such as media and English will have limited areas to use for folios and assignments because the council decided to cut a large sum of funding."

Parents have also raised concerns with regard to the changes coming in local schools.

One concerned mum said: "This is just wrong. They will be losing some great members of staff and who know what the replacement service will be like?

"I know the librarian at St Matthew's was excellent and so good with the kids. It is really sad, and a lot of people are really upset about this, including parents and children.

"But I don't think enough parents know what's being done yet and we need to draw this to everyone's attention."

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Posters have been raised around schools.

The petition - available at tinyurl.com/NASchoolLibraryPetition - has already gathered more than 400 signatures from people who want the council to reconsider.

In response, North Ayrshire Council says no final decision has yet been made on the re-design process.

A spokesperson said: “We will be carrying out a review of staffing levels in school libraries over the coming months and we anticipate that a new structure will be in place by August.

“Once the re design of the service is complete, the process of implementation and how individual staff may be affected will be considered in partnership with the relevant unions.

“Prior to the budget the matter was discussed with head teachers. There was a very positive discussion surrounding the options and possibilities of shaping a different offer for our children and young people.

"This will be built on now that the decision has been made.

“We appreciate how important libraries and literacy are for the development of our young people. The views of young people will be very important and will play a key part in the engagement process to help us create a new model that doesn’t compromise this.

“We will provide further updates when more details can be confirmed.”