back to article Librarians redubbed 'audience development officers'

Edinburgh librarians are apparently "seething" after the powers that be decided they should henceforth be known as “audience development officers” as part of a plan to drag libraries kicking and screaming “into the 21st century”. That's how the Caldeonian edition of the Sun describes the move by "barmy" council bosses, which …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds rather like another step along the path

    to the ultimate dream currently being promulgated by local councils throughout the UK of getting rid of those pesky books altogether

  2. Mark Lockwood


    Mines the one with orange hair on it....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do this

    Find who decided to do this. Which committee, then which person in that committee. Put them in front of a camera and record their explanation. Then we know who to ignore in future.

  4. Andus McCoatover

    Librarians are assistants here in Oulu, Finland

    You ask 'em for help. That's it. There's no "book-stamping" - you *always* checkout your book with a "chip ' n' pin" (God I hate that experession) library card, or Oulu City card, and a barcode reader. Fast, and a doddle. Unless you're old*, in which case the Audience Development Officers.....


    (Sorry, just went for a quick puke)

    .....will take care of it for you.

    *or stupid, in which case you must be trying to nick books for the Sally Army. 'cept, they don't pay. Then you get enhanced unemployment benefit, cos that's sufficient evidence that you must be a mush-head.

  5. Whitter
    Thumb Down

    More a case of honesty?

    Libraries are seriously at risk of becoming little more than providers of free internet access. Which means rather than a problem of staff nomenclature, we'll end up with the problem of no real librarians and no real libraries. Books? Pah! That's so last millennial!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Political Correctness?

    I'm sorry, this is not Policial Correctness, it's Managementspeak.

  7. Ron Eve


    Who elects these twunts into a council anyway? How on earth do they get away with such poo.

    “There will always be an appropriate level of staffing in libraries."

    One would always hope that there'll be sufficient staff to do the job...

    Any staff freed up by self-service will be used across an expanded, more customer-focused library service for Edinburgh.”

    One would always hope the customer comes first...

    FFS can we not get rid of these troublesome clowns.

  8. Richard

    Political Correctness my arse!

    It's more a case of Confusocracy. Quite what the purpose is here is unclear - one could think of many reasons both good and bad, no, actually all bad:

    Someone is getting paid to come up with job titles.

    The head librarian thought Head of Audience Development was a cooler job title.

    Some overpaid eejit with the title "Equality Officer" or similar thought up the wheeze as the title "Librarian" was demeaning.

    Obfuscation of stats - Audience Development Officers will appear at a different point in any list of employees, thus making year-on-year comparison difficult (I'm suspecting this is the REAL reason given that you mention 40 may be in for the chop)

  9. Chris Cooke
    Thumb Down

    the self service machines are crap

    I'm a regular user of the Edinburgh libraries, I'm a computer industry professional, and I have trouble using those damn self-service machines :-) so I dread to think how others get on with them. One can manage them with persistence but really it's a lot easier to get the librarian to do it for you. Just as with those self-scanners the supermarkets tried a few years ago - nobody could be bothered with the extra hassle so they died a death. Same here.

  10. Lloyd
    Thumb Down


    They have to spend that budget by the end of the fiscal year otherwise it'll be downsized next year, so why not spend lots of money on literature renaming librarians, it's not more barmy than half of the other tosh councils come out with.

  11. Andy Bell

    Library ?

    Thats such 20th century speak. Round our way they were renamed Learning Resource Centres years ago.

  12. Ralph B



  13. Master Baker
    Paris Hilton

    Could get confused with other professions

    'Audience Development Officer' would be a great 'official' title for a porn star. After all, they develop their audiences to [a] climax.

    Could equally be applied to Prophets. "He's not an Audience Development Officer, he's just a very naughy boy"

  14. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Down

    dont you just want to punch somebody

    Hint to our younger generation and anybody seeking a Job

    If you find the Term "Librarian" Offensive Don't get a job as one !!!!

    Jeez !

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh for heaven's sake...

    Yet another example of twits who think that just because a library hasn't changed its name to something stupid or renamed its staff similarly we must be behind the times. Luckily, where I work we have just won the right to still call ourselves librarians who work in a library (hence anon posting), but senior management types seem hell bent on this sort of tripe.

    By the way, you have made the common error of confusing librarians with library assistants. The latter are generally para-professionals who do the book stamping, shelving etc. Librarians have training analogous to teachers, ie vocational first degree or general first degree with postgrad diploma (frequently with a masters thrown in). We do management functions, strategic stuff, service development, outreach, user education, reference enquiries etc, you name it. Not that we don't help out with the book stamping etc if need be, but it's not our primary function.

  16. alan

    re chris cooke

    Here in northamptonshire the tesco self service machines havent died a death and we are getting more, they are really good, and general save me time. The only issues are when you need to buy age protected stuff (read alcohol for me :))

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what's new?

    Of course this is PC gone mad - but isn't that what most councils are best at these days? Glib jargon to divert attention from the shocking value we get from our council taxes. We should be glad that the councillors and senior officers concerned are where they are and not out here in industry causing even more damage - god knows this country is in enough trouble.

    But then Librarians themselves haven't much high ground here. In my experience - despite the influx of IT into public libraries - many of them still need to be dragged into the early part of the 20th century let alone the 21st. Those I've met are often been ludicrously concerned over titles. In my local library, a librarian is someone formally qualified in that field - other staff are 'assistants' - even when working alone. To most rational adults, if a person dispenses books, they're a librarian and that's that - but don't try telling that to a 'qualified librarian' (whatever the hell that actually means when I can access half the world from my desk!)

  18. Anonymous Coward

    It's about making redundancies

    If you want to make people redundant, you redefine the job role, declare that there are less "new" jobs available than before, and make everyone apply for the new jobs. Then you can select the ones you want to keep and tell the rest that their job no longer exists within the new structure.

  19. Gulfie

    They're not 'books'...

    They are 'Long-Term Physical Recordings of Individual Learning And Discovery' (non-fiction) and 'Long-Term Physical Recordings of Free-Associated Thoughts Ordered In Such A Way As To Convey Entertainment' (fiction) - and don't you forget it!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when is a school

    heard on the radio last week...

    what do you call a school where the library has replaced its books with computer terminals ?

    ...a creche

  21. Yorkshirepudding

    you think thats bad

    the peeps in subway that make the subs are called "sandwich artists" *scoff* have you seen most of the handywork? lol no love whatsoever

  22. Secretgeek
    Paris Hilton

    @ Chris Cooke

    You mean those self-scanner machines that are in every major supermarket round here?

  23. James Pickett

    Cart, meet horse

    "encourage kids to read"

    Isn't that the parents' job? If they're in the library, one assumes that such encouragement has already been applied...

  24. Schultz


    I just wanted to borrow ...


    I Just Wanted To...


    Sir, I Just Wanted To Borrow A Physics Book, Sir.


    Aye-Aye, Sir

    ((( friggin civillians)))

  25. Anonymous Scotsman

    Librarius Omnis...

    I personally welcome this development, since (nearly) anything ina apublic library can be trawled on bookchan or it's superiors anyway. I'd see it taken further by actively employing the librarians in scanning books and cataloging CCTV archives ( man bites dog as taken from fifteen different angles)for public perusal, preferably in the face of international outrage. Gives them something to do at least.

    The Temple of All Knowledge is only 30,000 years away!

  26. Stern Fenster


    "this is not Policial Correctness, it's Managementspeak"


  27. Adam Foxton

    @Chris Cook

    They didn't die a death up here (bonine scotland)... they're in most supermarkets- and even the local B&Q!

    I've never seen what the problem is- could it be that you're too well-trained to follow instructions from the machine rather than carrying them out? Or just don't like change? Don't like Windows XP perhaps?

    For the uninitiated in the ways of self-scan, it goes press big-ass start button --> swipe item --> place swiped item into bag (or at least on scales) --> swipe next item -->(repeat until all items swiped) --> hit "Finish & pay", choose appropriate payment method, pay, walk out of shop with bags full of items. It's not exactly difficult.

  28. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: dont you just want to punch somebody

    >dont you just want to punch somebody

    Er, no, actually. My emotional needs seemed to be sated by a simple roll of the eyes and some vague thoughts about the state of our libraries and absurd priorities and suchlike.

    You're an angry man, Lionel.

  29. Flugal

    Re. Alan

    The Tesco self-service machines give me cheaper bills too. *cough*...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't scan

    What the civilized world regards as unforgivable sin

    Of talking out loud to any audience development officer

    Such as Marian...

  31. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Who needs books anyway!

    Bloody librarians - peddling free books to the unwashed. Only Google and bloody skiving eggheads need books to show off with. Turn libraries into adult video stores and brothels is what I say and give the people what they want. And no bloody development either, bloody toffs thinking we ain't good enough for 'em. Audience gratification is what we want.

    (Paris never set foot in a bloody library in her life, and she's what the public wants...)

  32. Bad Beaver
    Paris Hilton

    ... like...


  33. Dennis

    I Love Librarians

    A Librarian is a professional qualification. Most Library's only have one or two Librarians and the rest are just book stampers or as we like to call them Library Assistants.

    So what is the big problem.......? Change their job title to 'audience development officers' then you can give the job to any clown that thinks all they do is stamp books. Then they will dole out endless copies of Harry Potter or whichever book is most topical this month. We as a society should have access to all available knowledge not just what trash sells

    A Librarian is the guardian of knowledge. They decide which books your children should read, not the government, not the schools and certainly not the church. They ensure the publics' right to good/accurate and unbiased information is available and free to all.

    When the Taliban took over Afghanistan the first thing they did was close the Library's. Control a society's access to information and you can control their thoughts and aspirations.

    How many people read a book when they were young and through I would love to be a racing car driver or solve a mystery or take a golden ring to Mordor? Books are about raising people expectations and teaching them what can be achieved when they try. Librarians' are the guardians of your right to free information (books).

    Believe it or not Google does not have all the answers. And when Phorm rolls out your access to information will be watched and reported back to Wacky Jaqui

    So this isn't political correctness it's an attack on our society's ability to access information and an attempt to save money. Any fool can publish on the internet. But books are the sum of societies acquired knowledge. I for one would hate to lose Librarians as I believe they are so important to our society………Oh and I'm married to one of them as well

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andy Bell

    I'll take your "Learning Resource Centres" and raise you "Idea Stores". No, really. According to the blurb: "Idea Stores combine the best of traditional library and information services with first class lifelong learning opportunities."

  35. Anonymous Coward

    @ Libraries in Finland

    Yep, I agree there. Libraries here (Finland) generally have plenty of staff, even in quite small towns like where I live, but they all have (and have had for quite some time) an array of self-service machines - some for taking books out, and others for returning books. It all works quite well, librarians are still called librarians, and I don't think there's any risk of industrial action over the 'rise of the machines'. You just use your card to scan the book in and out, and you can renew it over the internet. Of course, that fits with the Finnish mindset of "let's pretend the other people don't exist, and try not to interact with them"...

  36. Peyton

    Went through this already in the US

    Apparently they (I really don't know who "they" is tbh, but anyway) decided that librarians deal with a lot more than books these days, and rather than just sort of update the word "librarian" to connotate more than book lender/fine collector, they had to relabel them "library media specialists". Sadly, unlike their Edinburgh counterparts, I know a lot of the librarians here embraced the new terminology with open arms.

  37. Richard

    @Adam Foxton

    I don't know if the self-scan machines are different for you, but the ones in my local Asda were designed by Satan.

    I love change, but when I've stretched 4 feet to my left to put the money in it is just plain evil to have the coins come out next to where you've put money in and the notes come out next to the right thigh.

  38. Lionel Baden

    angry solution

    Agreed punching the closest council member may not be the most effective way of changing the current problem of PC and health and safety but it sure would feel satisfactory. (Might be a guy thing) ;)

    Its not anger its frustration, your lucky sarah to be able to sate your needs that easily but i would never switch with you although you may have it easier :)

    I do try not to post to many negative comments here for fear of becoming a troll.

    I just feel strongly about things.

    Sainsbury's in horsham use self service machine but its annoying because you need to get your parking card swiped on the way out which is easy to forget till you get to the exit gate !

  39. Sam

    Somethings wrong

    "My emotional needs seemed to be sated by a simple roll of the eyes.."

    There's no way that is Sarah Bee.

    And why has she got two shadows?

    Hey, who turned out the lights?

  40. npupp

    @Adam Foxton

    pft. Try being green and saving on carrier bags using those bastard self-service machines "unexpected item in packing bay" *skip bagging* "please place item in the bag" *skip bagging* "unexpected item in packing bay" *SKIP BAGGING* "please call for assistance" ARGH!

    Also, they should be mutable. And not the only way to pay after 2am in my local 24hr Asda, yeah. Poor you *hugs*

  41. AWeirdoNamedPhil

    They must not cut down on librarians!!!

    Good GOD, man... Don't you realize you're trampling on my favorite porn fantasy???

    If there are no more librarians, whatever will I fantasize about? Bookstore clerks???

    What a sad day in Western Civilization...

  42. Chris Cooke


    ... of not going shopping often enough in Tesco or Asda, obviously; I'd forgotten that they'd resurrected self service scanners in a new form. Thanks to several people for pointing that out. Doesn't change the fact that the Embra library scanners are more hassle and more slow than the Audience Development Officers though.

  43. graeme leggett

    Self service works in Norfolk

    Don't know who made them but they do the job.

    Library card under scanner - beep!

    Touchscreen - issue books button

    Put books in shelf area under screen

    list of the books comes up on screen

    Print receipt

    Leave with books.

    they also politely ask for you to pay up for fees before letting you scan the books

    And a quick check of our county councils website indicates the staff are still called librarians.

  44. Alan Esworthy
    IT Angle

    Title for those who come up with these titles

    Microcephalic Autocoprophagic Designator

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Not just 'freed', freed up

    Presence of phrase 'freed up' = sure sign, morons at work.

  46. The Boffin


    Yup. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt (eventually). My local Tesco insists that any item to be weighed must be on the scales before selecting the item. That 's counter-intuitive to me. I had the bag thing on the 10 items or less checkouts so I gave up on those. I did persist with the other checkouts for a while, but it's quicker and easier to used the staffed tills as I can pack while they scan. Also I go early on a Friday so I like to chat to other people in the queue or have a joke with the staff. (I think working from home is driving me a little batty.)

    Fortunately our libraries are still called libraries and long may it continue. My bugbear is the amount of shelf space dedicated to foreign language books. There's more shelf space dedicated to Chinese language than there is to my favourite genres (fantasy, sci-fi and trains, obviously). Not to mention the various Indian languages, far eastern languages, Polish, etc. Just what is the Vietnamese population of Coventry?

    I'll get me anorak.

  47. RW
    Thumb Down

    Time to form an Anti-euphemism Society

    We'll call developmentally retarded children "retarded", we'll use the verb "to fuck", and (gasp!) we'll call librarians "librarians". The adjectives "good", "bad", and "fucking awful" ("bloody awful" in the UK & colonies) will be deployed with regularity, as well asthe pejorative word "stupid".

    This kind of nonsense always amuses me: some brain dead functionary thinks that changing "what we call it" makes "it" better. Or conjures up some imaginary scenario in which someone (just who is never specified) is "offended" or something is "inappropriate" and thereby justifies re-rigging the language.

    It's true that libraries have changed, but they've been changing for a long time yet were still always called libraries. From the clay tablets of Babylonia to the papyrus scrolls of Alexandria to the hand written codices chained to the shelves of medieval Europe right through to modern libraries full of cheap editions of bodice rippers and DVDs of practical sex techniques: they were/are all still libraries.

    And the professionals who run them are librarians.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the devil makes work for idle hands

    the people that come up with these ideas are really unemployed, they don't have enough to do so they come up with madcap schemes like this.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Mangling to cope

    I swear there's a secret committee for embuggering the Queen's; people who proactively maintain this customer-facing focus farce, in opposition to common sense use of language. Is it a means to justify their HR ends?

    Perhaps yon cooncil will take a window of opportunity to deploy infomercials explaining this innovative rebranding. I say a corporate anthem's next !

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Ron Eve

    One would always hope the customer comes first...

    I should hope..... the more, the better.

    @Dennis - "When the Taliban took over Afghanistan the first thing they did was close the Library's. Control a society's access to information and you can control their thoughts and aspirations."

    And they're still murdering teachers, doctors, and students. This is the formula for every mindless dicator, power-mad group, nutjob. Kill off the teachers, doctors, intellectuals

    who might pass on an "idea" into some innocent.

    Paris, because she isn't.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    @graeme leggett

    Self service works in Norfolk

    According to what my father told me years ago "service" is what cow gets from a bull. I sure as hell don't want to even guess how those acrobats in Norfolk do whatever they do. (and hope there are no extreme pr0n videos of same)

  52. Anonymous Coward


    b self service tills

    used one in b Tescos

    didnt realise it was limited to 10 b items (not exactly well signed)

    I had 12 b items

    10th item I scanned was 1st of 2 2-for-price-of-1 drink offers

    b self service tills

  53. halfcut


    Call a spade an earth-inverting manually-driven horticultural device

  54. Maboza Richie

    A virus

    This nonsense will probably spread like a virus (I can't think of a suitable name, at the moment), just like 'community' libraries (who are they for if not the community) 'community' fire stations (!), polic vehicles daubed with 'serving the community' or 'making the community a safer place' and all the other faciley named 'community' facilities and services. Councillors should have to pass a reality exam before taking office, since most of them don't seem to have passed any other kind of exam.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only in the UK

    I would love to meet the person that came up with the idea, and ask him why he really wants to see this implemented?

    I have concerns that these people suffer from physchological problems ( as allegedly befits our Prime Minister).

    I mean, what IS the point?

    A job title is just a job title, the job's still the same, the money's still the same......

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Foxton

    For the uninitiated in the ways of self-scan, it goes press big-ass start button --> swipe item --> place swiped item into bag (or at least on scales) --> swipe next item -->(repeat until all items swiped) --> hit "Finish & pay", choose appropriate payment method, pay, walk out of shop with bags full of items. It's not exactly difficult.

    You don't have to push the "Finish and Pay" button, it's an uncessary action.

    Just insert the notes in to the reader and it recognises that you want to pay for the goods!

    Well it does in my Tescos!

    Just one helpful little tip brough to you by....The Master

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Automatic tills at checkouts

    And why is the note dispenser so far away from the coin dispenser?

    One day I'm going to walk out with just the loose change!

  58. Bruno de Florence
    Thumb Down

    Traces of the French revolution

    I believe all this "renaming" has its root in what happened under the French revolution, under the guidance of Robespierre & St Just. The purpose was to eradicate all traces of the hated Ancien Regime, hence the creation of a new vocabulary, which did not smell of the monarchy. The fact is that the first thing each new dictature does once in power is to remould language. This is akin to the infantile belief in the power of thought, that thinking something will actually make it happen.

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