The case for issuing every child in Scotland with a library card was outlined eloquently by Lori Anderson (Perspective, 28 August). She was particularly cogent in her remarks about the impact of devices such as Kindle and iPads. They should never replace the need for a physical building where all people, not just children, can browse, be informed, discuss, laugh, meet and sing. Her remarks will be treated with a bit of scepticism here in Fife. Its Cultural Trust – an arm’s-length body, a company limited by guarantee with charitable status – proposes to save £800,000 by closing 16 libraries and introduce an ill-defined “hub and spoke” model throughout the region.
Some of the proposed closures are in villages such as Crail and Freuchie where there are no other council facilities; some are in areas of deprivation such as Abbeyview in Dunfermline and part of the west of Glenrothes.
After some pressure the trust had to abandon a tokenistic consultation process, engage in something a bit more meaningful, and oblige it and its main partner Fife Council to postpone any decision on closures.
There still remains widespread public cynicism about the whole exercise. Both the local authority and the trust stand accused of taking a very narrow view of what a local library is about. This often looks like a narrow accounting exercise and not an attempt to look at the viability of communities.
Saving these libraries needs not just creative accounting but some creative thinking from those who hold power in both the trust and Fife Council.
All the fine words from various departments about community engagement, tackling deprivation, innovative solutions, will count for nothing if they are not prepared to rise to the challenge.