Edinburgh libraries ‘will not close’

Central Library, Edinburgh

Quashing fears of community library closures,
Edinburgh City council assured the public that all Edinburgh libraries will remain open.

Across the country campaigners have been fighting to keep libraries open since budget cuts threatened to close some smaller libraries earlier this year. In response to public concerns, the council have published a libraries consultation document outlining plans to bring Edinburgh’s libraries into the 21st century. Under the mantra ‘Better Libraries, Better Lives,’ the proposals focuses on strengthening community connections.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure convener, said: “obviously all local authorities are having to make big savings just now, and we are no exception. But unlike some areas, we have not closed, and will not close any of our libraries – on the contrary, we’re opening more, integrating library services within community facilities to give greater flexibility and make best use of resources.”

The consultation document was released in the same week that Edinburgh’s virtual library received a nomination for “Best use of social media” in the UK Public Sector Digital Awards.

Covering 27 community libraries, the Central Library, mobile libraries and services to hospitals and care homes, the plan aims to cater to all, from children to the elderly.

In order for the libraries to be ‘fit for purpose’ some buildings will undergo refurbishment, a measure that has already been taken in Stockbridge and Portobello. Morningside library is the latest to undergo changes and is due to reopen in a matter of weeks after extensive refurbishment.

Information Services Manager for Edinburgh libraries, Liz McGettigan explains how the library service hopes to evolve: “This is a hugely challenging time and what is set out here will evolve as we continue our dialogue across the city. It will only be through a strong partnership approach that this will be achieved. We intend to continue our innovative public, electronic, educational and cultural programmes, delivered both on-site and virtually. We are also laying the groundwork in this period for a new Central Library.”

Brock emphasized the need for public involvement in helping to shape the future of Edinburgh’s libraries: “In Edinburgh we are shaping our library service based on customer feedback, usage patterns and discussions with libraries’ staff. As we move forward, we’re looking to gauge the public’s views on our draft strategy for libraries. We invite everyone to tell us what they think – your feedback is invaluable in helping us continue to improve this vital service for the city.”

Public consultations on the proposals will take place from December 2011 into January 2012.