SCOTLAND’S largest workers' union marked national libraries day by re-stating its opposition to proposed cuts to Barrhead’s schools.

Unison has claimed that the planned changes, which would see the number of full time librarians drop and school libraries closed two out of three days, will increase poverty and inequality.

It also claims that as libraries move into a digital age and undergo massive change, staff numbers have been going down, buildings are closing, opening hours are reducing and services are being cut.

The union recently highlighted cuts to school libraries, in a submission to the Scottish parliament petitions committee.

UNISON claims that it has uncovered evidence of a consistent pattern of school library services being a soft target to meet budget cuts, saying school libraries are vital for young people’s learning and have a central role in equipping our younger people from disadvantaged backgrounds for the digital age.

Recent research has suggested that children struggle to discriminate between facts, fiction and paid for product placement online. Libraries are especially useful to children with no access to internet at home.

Gray Allan, UNISON Scotland libraries spokesperson said: “Cutting library budgets is another way of entrenching inequalities.

"Libraries are a way that poorer families get access to the same breadth of reading materials as everyone else. And Libraries are so much more than books.

“They provide information services for people of all backgrounds, they organise kids clubs and hubs for older people, computer terminals for those with no access to the internet can use to find job vacancies. And the support of skilled librarians to help you find the information you need.”

More than 2,500 people signed the petition which was created after multiple local authorities, including Barrhead’s, announced cuts to school library services.

Under plans to plug a £20 million funding gap, East Renfrewshire Council’s education department is proposing a 50 per cent reduction in school library services, meaning pupils would have access to a library service less than half the week.

It would also result in the number of full-time librarians being reduced from five, or one for each high school, to 3.5.

A proposal by ERC to use senior school pupils to take up the resulting slack was quickly scrapped after a public backlash.

Steven Larkin, Unison’s East Renfrewshire branch secretary, said: “Qualified librarians help pupils find the information they need to study, write reports and dissertations.

The research is clear, the impact on pupil learning will be dramatic if this service goes.”

An East Renfrewshire Council spokeswoman said: “We want to find a way to retain our school librarians wherever possible because we know how valuable the resource is.

We will still maintain librarian cover across all school libraries but no school will have a dedicated full-time resource.

“These savings will be realised by changing the librarians’ hours and reducing the administrative activities they undertake.”