Pedal power to highlight library axe plans

Supporter Bryce Sutherland says libraries are now about more than lending books, such as this recent event for children at Glenwood Library. Pic: George McLuskie
Supporter Bryce Sutherland says libraries are now about more than lending books, such as this recent event for children at Glenwood Library. Pic: George McLuskie

A Markinch man is planning to take to the road to keep the spotlight on plans to axe libraries in Fife.

Bryce Sutherland (29) says his local library was a lifeline when he was at a low point and he wants to make sure they are still around to help others.

Next Tuesday he is planning on cycling between the 16 libraries facing closure - a distance of about 80 miles - to highlight their plight and appeal to people to get involved in campaigns to save them.

He also organised a public meeting held last night (Tuesday) in the Salvation Army Hall, Glenrothes, which was supported by leading Scottish author and poet James Robertson and which Bryce hoped would help bring together different campaigns in a united front against the proposals.

He has also launched a petition, which has more than 3000 signatures.

“Libraries are about more than books,” said community worker and music instructor Bryce. “When I didn’t have any work, my local library was the place I’d go to get computer access and there must be lots of people across Fife who are in the same situation.

“Libraries get used more than people think.”

Fife Cultural Trust is proposing to close the libraries over the next three years.

The libraries earmarked are Glenwood, Thornton, Markinch, Pitteuchar, Kinghorn, Crail, Lundin Links, Pittenweem, Colinsburgh, Falkland, Freuchie, East Wemyss, Bowhill, Crossgates, Abbeyview (Dunfermline) and Townhill.

Sinclairtown library would close in March 2016, with the services relocating to a new Kirkcaldy East Campus.

Bryce says the proposals also contradict the importance that Fife Council itself places on the service.

“Community education has an initiative where parents with small children are invited to bond with their children at reading sessions in the library,” he said.

Closure concerns force period of consultation over plans

Fife Cultural Trust, which manages and operates libraries on behalf of the Council, wants to move to a ‘hub and spoke’ model for the network.

It would reduce the number of libraries across Fife – with Bowhill, Kinghorn, Thornton and East Wemyss among those earmarked for closure - and would mean the loss of 25 jobs, although assurances have been given that there would be no compulsory redundancies.

The proposed changes are being driven by a need to cut costs, with the trust looking to make savings of £813,000.

The plan was due to be voted on by Fife Council executive committee in June but after concerns were raised it was decided that public consultations would be carried out before a decision was made on September 29.