Major changes to Fife’s library services will be considered by councillors next week – with the proposals including the closure of 16 libraries.
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’s a move that would reduce the number of libraries across Fife – with Bowhill, Kinghorn, Thornton and East Wemyss among those earmarked for closure.
And it would mean the loss of 25 jobs, although assurances have been given that there would be no compulsory redundancies.
But the trust says it would also provide a better-targeted and more accessible service for users, with opening hours standardised and improved digital technology on hand to meet the modern needs of communities across Fife.
The proposed changes are also been driven by a need to cut costs, with the trust looking to make savings of £813,000.
But it was stressed Fife would still have one of the largest networks of libraries in Scotland.
Heather Stuart, Fife Cultural Trust chief executive, said: “The proposed new system will build upon the strengths of Fife’s existing library service, while finally addressing the weaknesses and inefficiencies that have crept in over the decades.
“The result will be a service that remains true to Fife’s proud history of excellent libraries, that is fit to meet the challenges of today and which future generations can enjoy.”
Under the proposals, hub libraries, including Kirkcaldy Galleries, will be open for 40 hours or more each week.
Spoke libraries, such as Burntisland and Templehall, will open between 20 and 40 hours each week.
And satellite libraries, situated mainly in rural areas of Fife, will open up to 20 hours each week.
If the proposals are agreed by the Council’s executive committee on Tuesday, the Council and the trust will seek the views of the public to guage customer opinion on the impact of the changes.
Heather said: “Ultimately, this is about turning a substantial financial challenge into an opportunity to create a better library services for families across Fife.
“Recent investment in digital technology, free wi-fi and modern PCs demonstrates our commitment to that goal.
“We welcome the views of the public, and indeed our staff, and together we can build a library service that is fit for the future.”
Closures identified following review
Fife Cultural Trust is proposing to close 16 libraries in Fife over the next three years.
The libraries earmarked for closure are Glenwood (Glenrothes), Thornton, Markinch, Pitteuchar (Glenrothes), Kinghorn, Crail, Lundin Links, Pittenweem, Colinsburgh, Falkland, Freuchie, East Wemyss, Bowhill, Crossgates, Abbeyview (Dunfermline) and Townhill.
In addition, Sinclairtown library would close in March 2016, with the services relocating to the new Kirkcaldy East Campus in August 2016.
The decision on which libraries should close was taken after a review of the network. This included looking at access to reasonable alternative provision; current and trend performance, including footfall; maintaining a geographical spread across Fife to ensure equity of access as far as possible; and the physical state of buildings.
Fife Council cuts impact on trust
The management fee paid to Fife Cultural Trust is being reduced as part of the Council’s efforts to tackle the much-publicised £77m budget gap.
Council leader David Ross said: “Along with every other council service, the cultural trust has no alternative but to reduce costs.”