CAMPAIGNERS fighting to reinstate school librarians in the Borders have embarked on a tour of secondaries.

On Monday UNISON representatives were at Peebles High School - one of three secondaries where librarians were replaced earlier this year by volunteers, pupils and self-scanning machines.

Parents, pupils and staff were invited to sign campaign postcards which will be sent to local authority leader Shona Haslam.

And the organisers claim to have been inundated with support in the Peebles playground.

Kaymarie Hughes of UNISON Scottish Borders Public Services branch said: “This week is Book Week Scotland and the theme is Rebel.

"UNISON will be rebelling and campaigning throughout this week across the schools to raise awareness of the detrimental impact this staffing loss could have on our children.

"We would encourage all parents, pupils and school staff to come and speak with us and support our campaign.

“School Librarians are a critical part of any school’s staff.

"Scottish Borders Council is currently downgrading the library service in schools in Peebles, Galashiels and Kelso through a cost cutting measure which will see volunteers and student labour cover duties previously done by paid Library staff.”

When we broke the story in spring that library staff at the three secondary schools had been replaced parents, politicians, unions and educational groups condemned the move.

And the concerns even reached the floor of the debating chamber at Holyrood.

Attempts by leading councillors, including Shona Haslam, to defend the pilot have been met with further anger.

Now UNISON hopes that public pressure will lead to a reversal.

Local organiser Greig Kelbie said: “We are calling on the council to rethink their proposals as this is nothing more than dressing up cuts as 'leadership training'.

"We are all for getting pupils involved in the libraries to learn new skills, but not at the expense of properly qualified staff.

"We are already hearing reports that without the presence and guidance of staff within the library, they are becoming chaotic common rooms that happen to have books in them.

"Concerned parents and members of the community are clearly opposed to these proposals. Please do not be quiet!

"We urge anyone concerned to write to their local councillor or sign one of our campaign postcards addressed to council leader, Shona Haslam.”

Throughout this week UNISON will also visit Galashiels Academy, Selkirk High, Hawick High, Earlston High and Kelso High to drum up further support.

Scottish Borders Council say they are working with the unions.

A spokesperson told us: “Work continues with existing librarians and unions to design a new service for all school libraries that meets the national expectations and also those of our pupils, who told us they wanted more modernised and digitally enabled learning and study provision, as well as more pupil-owned and led social and library spaces.

“A pilot scheme is operating in three high school libraries – Galashiels, Kelso and Peebles – and will be fully evaluated before any final decisions are made."