ABC proposal to shut down sound libraries draws fire from staff

A proposal by the ABC to restructure its sound and reference libraries, resulting in the loss of 10 staff has been blasted by current and former employees.

The proposal, which will see the state-based libraries centralised in Melbourne and Sydney with most of the CD and print collections digitised, is part of the national broadcaster’s efficiency drive under CEO Michelle Guthrie.

The host of current affairs show PM, Linda Mottram, described the proposal as “ripping the heart out” on Twitter, following reports of the move in The Guardian.

Similarly, Simon Marnie, long-standing host of the ABC Sydney Weekend program, described the move on Facebook as a ‘corporate lobotomy’.

This is the equivalent of performing a corporate lobotomy. It's like sacking your mechanic because the car never…

Posted by Simon Marnie on Monday, 29 January 2018

Comedian and star of 1980s ABC sketch show D-Generation, Tony Martin, was also critical of move, pointing out ‘space savings’ arguments to digitise the music collections are largely moot for the Melbourne offices.

Under the proposal, ABC management will shut down the Perth, Hobart and Adelaide libraries with the loss of four jobs. The Sydney sound and reference library will also lose six staff, however the reference and classic music resources will remain at Ultimo.

Currently, the ABC employs the equivalent of 15.3 full-time employees across its libraries nationally.

In a statement to Mumbrella an ABC spokesperson said: “The proposed changes are subject to consultation with staff and are not yet finalised. The proposed changes are about working most effectively and efficiently in the digital environment.

“The recent introduction of the Digital Music Bank allows us to provide access to the entire collection digitally, and under this proposal we would move from multiple sound libraries to a single library based in Melbourne. Moving from physical to digital would enable these resources to be more easily accessed by content-makers when and where they needed them. 

“Under this proposal the Sound Library collection would be centralised in Melbourne and librarians there would continue to provide expert knowledge to assist content makers around the country.”

ABC section secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, Sinddy Ealy said: “This decision is extremely premature, given the ABC hasn’t even begun to bed down its content restructure. This is going to add to the pressure on journalists and content makers.”

“This isn’t just about the format of this content. These ABC librarians are highly skilled and experienced. They make a real difference to high quality ABC productions and they will be missed.”

“I’d expect most of these people will walk into new jobs elsewhere fairly easily because of their unique skills. It’s the ABC and ABC audiences who will lose the most from this announcement.”


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