Petition launched to keep Falkland library in community ownership

Pictured outside the library with the petition are, from left - Caren Gilbert, Rachel Fraser, Ken Laurie, Margaret Normand and Lars Christinsen.
Pictured outside the library with the petition are, from left - Caren Gilbert, Rachel Fraser, Ken Laurie, Margaret Normand and Lars Christinsen.

A Falkland man is urging local people to support him in his bid to secure a happy ending for a village library facing closure.

Falkland Library is one of 16 to be given the chop as part of a cost-cutting exercise by Fife Council.

It will close in March next year unless anyone can come up with an alternative way of running the facility.

Fife Cultural Trust - which runs the Kingdom’s libraries on behalf of the council - asked for ideas from local communities.

In the case of Falkland, three proposals were put forward, one of which appears to have fallen by the wayside.

Another was submitted by Raymond Kelly, proprietor of Lomond Pharmacy, who wants to buy the building and says he will continue to provide a library service in collaboration with his existing business.

Mr Kelly received support for his plans at a recent meeting of the local community council.

The third proposal is from Falkland Village Hall Trust, whose chairman, Ken Laurie, has launched a petition in the hope of gaining support for plans to acquire the library under the community asset transfer programme, a relatively new piece of legislation designed to empower communities.

As there are competing proposals, councillors will make the final decision.

However Mr Laurie said he’s concerned that if the library were to be taken over on a commercial basis it would be in danger of being lost to the community.

He said he’s launched the petition to ‘instil community spirit’.

“The library building adjoins the village hall, which is run by Falkland Village Hall Trust,” he said.

“We don’t own the building, but it was built by the community for the community and if it left public ownership we would never get it back. I believe the Trust would be in a strong position to protect both buildings in perpetuity for the community of Falkland.”

Mr Laurie explained that the trust has Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation status with the umbrella charity organisation OSCR, which means it can enter into contracts, employ staff, incur debts, own property and so on in much the same way as a limited company.

“We have put in a strong bid whereby a local couple would be offered space at a favourable rent on the proviso that they manned the library,” he said.

“The couple in question offer services relating to health and well-being, so it would become a reflective space that would complement the library. We would also offer such things as ‘hot desking’ facilities and we would hope to create exhibition space to house an archive of Falkland.

“It would be a facility that would be of benefit to the whole community.”