Hillingdon baristas

Library staff will work in the Starbucks franchises, serving “coffee” whilst answering queries. So join a library become a barista!

Franchises note- so if it doesn’t work, *$ get their cash anyway and they and the council can blame the staff for not running a good enough “coffee” shop.

Private enterprise, the guaranteed trouble free way to balance your books and get the most out of your staff…

As Suzanne says in the comments, if people want the best and most committed staff serving the public how can you square this with making them into baristas? It’ s one thing asking people to shift focus in a job, another to add a totally unrelated activity.

We will keep our eyes on the whole project. For the sake of the people of Hillingdon- not Tim Coates, who is unaccountable, not Councillor Higgins, who could well be gone before the results are seen – I hope it works out ok.

 Update, 18/10/2007– the opening (in Ruislip Manor) seems to have been a success, with the first of the restructured libraries getting a lot of visitors and custom. Let’s hope that trend continues and any teething troubles are sorted out, and that staff are ok too. Yeah the public pay their wages,  and public service comes first, but I don’t think it’s a bad management practice to to think of staff too.


10 Responses to Hillingdon baristas

  1. Miriam Palfrey says:

    Explains the new library uniform, although I thought Costa staff wear black and white, don’t Starbucks employees have to wear green smocks or something?

  2. Pete says:

    If I recall correctly yes. They are just serving *$ coffee, though, not running a *$ shop-so maybe a smock for brand identity isn’t needed

  3. Miriam Palfrey says:

    Well strke action seems to be on the cards. No doubt TC and co will paint the protesters as change-resistant, money-wasting drains on society.

    CILIP need to comment now. As a public librarian I have recently begun to feel that they don’t value us as much as workers in other sectors. The BMA or Law Society wouldn’t sit by as their members were reduced to waiting tables. Either CILIP doesn’t actually think we are professionals or they are not earning the subs we pay.

    I agree that more people should stand up and make themselves heard but I also think that we should know that CILIP is supporting us as we do so.

  4. Pete says:

    In the past people saw CILIP as very public library driven; maybe this has changed?
    Certainly CILIP need to do more, but I can’t see much beyond a polite but firm letter and some hand wringing. Ian Snowley and Bob McKee need to do a bit less ‘evidence gathering’ and a bit more talking.

  5. Miriam Palfrey says:

    I know that people have mentioned this in the past but, although Update often seems to have more of a public focus, I’m not sure that CILIP did.

    To be honest when TC tells people that librarians are “so called professionals” it’s an insult to all sectors and it should be a CILIP representitive who answers him, not you or I.

  6. Suzanne says:

    I’m relieved that they’re striking, but what a position to have been put into in the first place. If I were told that serving coffee was to become part of my job description, my reply would be unprintable.

    Tim said the following on his blog just recently:

    “It’s simple– you have your best, most experienced, enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff in the libraries- making them open and accessible for as long as it possible, sensible and safe. You have clean smart buildings that are as well stocked as you can afford them to be. You spend as little money on other things as possible. ”

    How then, can he support the idea of experienced, enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff acting as coffee shop workers? Not to denigrate them of course, but we chose librarianship not coffee.

  7. Pete says:

    To be fair to Tim, the coffee thing is probably more the council than him. No point challenging him on it, he can’t comment on the whole Hillingdon thing.

  8. Miriam Palfrey says:

    Because he doesn’t mean librarians. He means cheap and labour shipped in from retail.

    The really annoying thing is that retail staff are generally treated with more respect. Waterstones staff do not manage the in-store coffee shops, they do (well they did until very recently) get a bonus for working on bank-holidays and (once again until recently) there was a clear heirarchy amongst staff. A lot of the things he claims are in line with retail practice simply aren’t.

    The council and TC have treated the Hillingdon with such disrespect that I have been fuming over the last few days from what I’ve heard from the local UNISON secretary.

  9. Miriam says:

    He says he can’t comment on Hillingdon but he is perfectly capable of putting down the staff and suggesting that the previous service was below par.

    The jibe about outreach today was a particularly low blow as no-one from the service is allowed to defend themselves.

    I wouldn’t put it past him to have suggested that librarians serve coffee. He has compaired us to baristas before.

  10. Pete says:

    Well I have pulled him up on outreach there. He has moved on from that to Dudley now.
    It is ironic that staff in Hillingdon cannot comment because of council restrictions, a situation he has vocally deplored elsewhere.
    The full truth of this will out in time.

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