Today we have launched UNISON’s Love Your Libraries campaign in Scotland.
I have set out the current state of the public library service in Scotland in a briefing. We should also remember that many other public services have libraries including hospitals, schools, colleges and universities. Currently around 1 million Scots borrow books from Scotland’s 541 public libraries and 82 mobile libraries, and many more use the much wider services that libraries provide via learning centres, and digital access. But there is evidence that authorities are cutting back on libraries, opening hours and qualified staff as a response to the unprecedented financial cutbacks.
We are also asking MSP’s to support the motion submitted by Peter Peacock MSP to the Scottish Parliament (Motion number S3M-05898) that highlights the campaign and the vital role libraries play in our communities. This service has become even more important since the recession as libraries in Scotland are becoming increasingly busy.
The briefing also sets out the case against hiving off the public library service to a trust, as is being considered by some councils. Fortunately there are statutory provisions in Scotland that make this difficult and the only real experience has been in Glasgow. Culture & Sport Glasgow, was promoted in 2007 in order to attract private finance. In fact the only money it has attracted is by tax avoidance, and the Trust is now facing a £1.7m cut this year, wants to freeze staff pay and close libraries. It has already drastically reduced book-buying in the final months of this financial year.
A public library service is the hallmark of a civilised society. We should support them.