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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Libraries and Books

A new experience for me today. I find myself supporting the views of David Gray, principal of Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools, Edinburgh. Now normally I would have little in common with private school teachers, but his piece in today's Scotsman is spot on.

Firstly, he makes the case for the school library. "As places, they have retained an aura of reverence and quiet study, and for young people in good schools, they are at the heart of intellectual thought and reflection."

Secondly, he makes the case for books. "There is also incipient evidence that the reader of the screen does not assimilate information as accurately or as effectively as in applying his (or possibly her David!)  mind to a book which always involves steady, persistent concentration, a key to effective assimilation, analysis and evaluation."

This must be right and that is why we need to come together to defend our libraries. Many councils are looking to cut back their library provision. In particular there has been a move towards reduced opening times and employing less qualified staff. In a UNISON survey more than 40% members reported cuts in service and two-thirds felt staffing levels were inadequate. Nearly 90% indicated public support for the service, but nearly two-thirds felt that the service was not valued by their local authority.

Since the start of the recession libraries across Scotland are reporting increases in visits and lending issues. 30 million visits last year, bucking the trend. Libraries have diversified with the introduction of downloadable audio files and e-books, but the value of the book should not be underestimated.
 
You can love Scottish libraries by signing this online petition today.

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