Limited access to library in Fife town sparks growing concern

Efforts to ensure greater access to a community library in the East Neuk are being stepped up amid growing frustration among locals.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 11th March 2022, 4:06 pm

While many libraries across Fife have reopened to the public as COVID pandemic restrictions ease, the library at Waid Academy in Anstruther is only open for browsing for three-and-a-quarter hours each week as Fife Council do not want members of the public mixing with school pupils.

A connect and collect service is available for 10 hours a week, while a mobile library service is available for 30 minutes a fortnight, but local residents are keen to see Waid’s facility properly back up and running.

After a protest against the ongoing closure was held on World Book Day earlier this month, Anstruther, Cellardyke and Kilrenny Community Council considered the situation at its latest meeting.

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Pupils and parents gathered on World Book Day to protest the library''s ongoing closure. (Pic: Anstruther, Cellardyke and Kilrenny Community Council)

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Mum-of-two Vicky Guigou said: “We are the only library in Fife to keep using COVID as an excuse not to provide a statutory service.

“Whilst we appreciate the importance of pupil safety, we also appreciate there must be ways to overcome these risks.”

A local group of concerned library users met with Fife Council representatives in December and highlighted a number of potential solutions.

The group urged the council to investigate weekend and evening opening, moving books into community learning and development rooms which have external access doors, and using pods in the playground as a potential community library space.

They also said alternative local venues could be used for bookbug sessions, while officials were asked to look at the possibility of using a temporary partition to ensure pupils and members of the public would not mix.

Fife Council has agreed to meet again with local residents on March 21 to discuss the situation further.

Fife Council’s head of customer service Diarmuid Cotter has said the decision on opening hours was based on COVID risk assessments.

“The library is an important community asset, and we understand people want to see it open for longer,” he commented.

“COVID restrictions have been different in our schools for obvious reasons, and we will re-assess this issue as soon as we can.”

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