Library assistants feared the effects this would have on library atmosphere, and on their own dignity. Morale was very low; it plummeted further because of the divisive nature of these plans - library assistants were to wear uniforms, but not librarians. There was also concern over what impact spending on uniforms would have on the book budget.
Library assistants - and, in solidarity, some librarians - protested. Many members of the public - library users - protested too, and there were articles in the local media. Unison was persuaded to ballot its library members, who came out strongly in favour of refusing to wear a uniform if issued.
After that, there was a deafening silence from management. After constantly hearing about how uniforms would be implemented almost immediately, staff heard nothing. As weeks turned into months, library assistants hoped the idea had been dropped. But there was no chance to celebrate or relax - there was always the possibility that the next working day would bring another revival of the uniform.
But in the last week, while looking for something else on the libraries intranet, minutes of a management meeting were discovered. In these, there is a brief sentence to say that uniforms will not be implemented. A dress code is being thought about.
Library staff have still not heard anything officially, but it seems that at last there is cause for celebration! We don't know when staff will be told - maybe never, but library assistants are relieved!
There is still much that is wrong with libraries. New systems at Central Library cause dissatisfaction. Many buildings are tatty and uncared-for. It seems that branch libraries hold fewer and fewer books. The environment is not considered when policies are formulated. Staff have more work to do as jobs are amalgamated. But for a while at least morale is raised as the threat of uniforms has fallen to workplace solidarity - together we are strong! And maybe colourful or stylish too!