Uniforms in Libraries?

Do you want to wear a uniform? I am not talking of cosplay here, but an actual library uniform.

Elsewhere in the world many local councils are forcing their staff into standard council uniforms, that is the uniforms worn by all types of council workers that have a public interface role.

In Australia, there has been some pressure for branding and uniforming of library staff too. However, as elsewhere in the world, the introduction of uniforms in, for example, the State Library of Queensland did not go down well with everyone.

In the Netherlands some uniforms were less contentious, probably because they were not your standard polyester.

The argument for councils is that uniforms align library staff with the rest of the council workforce and in a library setting allows library staff to be more visible and thus more accessible to readers. There is some justification in the latter argument. But, it has been standard practice almost universally that Library staff wear name badges which go a long way to making staff visible. So do uniforms have a useful role or are they a waste of money that could be spent on collections or additional staff?

Librarians have generally been opposed to uniforms as it is felt that it de-professionalises them. It is generally considered that only manual or non-professional staff wear uniforms, and it is certainly the case that other professonal staff employed by councils such as teachers are not required to wear uniforms. There is also the issue of which level of staff are required to wear uniforms, in some larger libraries, the library front door or support staff or other para-professionals are required to wear uniforms, but senior librarians are not. Would this cause an unnecessary division between staff?

So would you feel comfortable wearing a uniform? Would it save you worrying about what to wear? There are a number of libraries that do require uniforms in Qld. and W.A., if you are a librarian in a uniform let us know whether you think it is a good thing.

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One thought on “Uniforms in Libraries?

  1. I think it’s also about being allowed to express who you are in the workplace. At our workplace we have had it suggested by some staff, for tax purposes. It allows clothing and washing to be included you see. There are also staff who see it as allowing them to be recognised easily, especially whilst shelving. Name badges have been introduced for this purpose. So customers know who to ask questions of.
    The main libraries don’t request uniforms, however our IT labs and multimedia support staff wear uniforms as monogrammed polo shirts or monogrammed fleecy jackets. This way you can still dress some part in your own style, but are easily identified when arriving to help someone.

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