Libraries campaign steps up a gear

Campaigners across Fife have swung into action to save closure-threatened libraries.
Campaigners across Fife have swung into action to save closure-threatened libraries.

The campaign to save Fife libraries from closure has stepped up its activities.

The Keep Fife’s Libraries Open Campaign’s team of community activists are offering advice and support to local communities and are planning to more events to highlight their campaign.

The group is also starting a letter campaign, writing to community councils and elected representatives in a bid to keep pressure up on Fife Cultural Trust and Fife Council to stop the closures.

The continued pressure follows a public meeting in Glenrothes this week when more than 100 people heard local, award-winning author James Robertson back the campaign.

In a passionate speech Mr Robertson told his audience that libraries are the lifeblood of any community, serving some of the most vulnerable in society. He called for investment in local libraries not closure and praised the dedication and professionalism of library staff.

This week campaign founder Bryce Sutherland, from Markinch, will cycle 80 miles around Fife, visiting each of the libraries listed for closure to raise awareness of the campaign

Mr Sutherland has described libraries as a lifeline, He says libraries offered him a “haven in the community” with a warm welcoming space providing much needed computer access so he could apply for jobs when he found himself unemployed.

Fife Cultural Trust has proposed moving to a ‘hub and spoke’ model for library provision in a bid to achieve savings of more than £800,000 demanded by Fife Council.

Glenwood, Thornton, Markinch and Pitteuchar in the Glenrothes area, and Kinghorn are earmarked for closure in the current financial year, but Fife Council will provide funding to support these libraries until the consultation process has been completed and a final decision has been made on the future model. It’s proposed Crail, Lundin Links, Pittenweem, Colinsburgh, Falkland, Freuchie, East Wemyss, Bowhill and Crossgates libraries will close in 2016/17, and Townhill and Abbeyview (Dunfermline) in 2017/18.

Since the plans were announced campaigns to save local libraries have sprung up across Fife.

Keep Fife Libraries Open Campaign is critical of the consultation on the closures that is currently under way, describing it as “in disarray”.

The group adds: “Library users have not yet been contacted about the proposals, despite assurances from Fife Cultural Trust that they would have an opportunity to have their say.”

Campaigners also questioned the Trust’s use of physical book-issue statistics as a measure of library usage, arguing that this does not reflect the increasingly varied reasons why local libraries are accessed.

Fife Council’s education, health and social care scrutiny committee will discuss the proposals on Tuesday (August 11)