Fight against library closures campaign launched by CILIPS
Threat to public libraries from council cuts, warn library professionals ahead of local elections
Graeme Macrae Burnet - credit CILIPS/Kirsty Anderson
A new campaign against the closure of libraries has been launched by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS).
The Library Matters campaign hopes to highlight the threat of further cuts to local and school libraries ahead of the local government elections in May.
The campaign has received the support of authors Irvine Welsh and Graeme Macrae Burnet.
The latter launched the campaign this morning from Glasgow’s Mitchell Library. He said he had researched and written his novel His Bloody Project – which was nominated for last year’s Booker prize – from the library.
“As a regular user of libraries, I know what a fantastic range of services they provide to people of all ages and backgrounds,” he said.
“At a time when we are concerned about literacy, education and inclusiveness, we should be championing the crucial role libraries play in our communities.”
Last year CILIPS launched an advocacy strategy for school libraries and promised to campaign for libraries at national level.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of teachers’ union the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: “Many children don’t have ready access to books at home, for example, or indeed the wider resources, which school libraries provide such as computers and even just a space to study.
“And over and above the resources, school librarians are highly skilled professionals who know how to assist and support students. If we are serious about our ambitions for Scottish Education, school libraries deserve our support.”
CILIPS will also send an open letter to all candidates in the local elections.
Catherine Kearney, director of CILIP in Scotland said the campaign hoped to garner the support of library users.
“People may be surprised what’s on offer at the library, with services addressing Scotland’s key outcomes and their value reaching beyond access to books to digital inclusion, community cohesion, health and wellbeing and more,” she said.
This view was backed by John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.
“While many people are increasingly accessing information digitally, many others are left behind,” he said.
“Libraries are not just about books but also provide an essential community resource for people to get free advice, information and awareness of what's available in their communities in a safe and friendly atmosphere.”
The Scottish Government last year pledged a £240,000 Public Library Improvement Fund to encourage library use.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Scottish Government places great importance on public libraries and believes everyone should have access to library services. This funding demonstrates our ambition to ensure libraries engage in creative and stimulating activities.”
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