Glasgow's Peasants Get Our Libraries Back... For Now
Glasgow Live reports that the city’s five closed libraries are to reopen.
This is a relief, after an email I received yesterday from Glasgow Libraries, announcing new opening times for various libraries, but making no mention of Maryhill, Whiteinch, or any of the other closed libraries. Previously, it had been announced that Maryhill Library would not reopen, and then Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken, a crypto-Thatcherite who has stated that she prefers that services be provided by community volunteers rather than government, claimed the library would not be closing, but its services moved to a nearby building. Since she made that statement in April, the library has not reopened, and its services have not been relocated.
The campaign to save Maryhill library, led by Keiran O’Neill, former Scottish Labour and Co-op candidate for Maryhill and Springburn, has been holding a read-in outside the libary from 11am-noon every Saturday. Mr O’Neill welcomed today’s news, but told me, “This money is welcome, but it’s not enough to guarantee a full future service, and that’s not good enough. So the campaign to save the library is not over. There will be the 30th read-in on Saturday which will celebrate what is a community victory but also discuss next steps.”
So this may only be a stay of execution rather than a reprieve. And it is unclear whether Maryhill Library will reopen in the building that has been its home for more than a century, or if Ms Aitken’s half-baked plan to move its services to the other side of Maryhill Road is still being considered. I asked Bob Doris, MSP for Maryhill and Springburn, who told me he had just written to Bridget McConnell, aka Baroness McConnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, seeking additional information.
As I have said before, Maryhill Library is a life-saver for some people in this community, one of the city’s most deprived. Children benefitted from story time and homework club. There was a writing group. The library is not a luxury, it is a necessity for so many of us: unemployed people, pensioners, young people, those who cannot afford to buy books and newspapers, people who do not own computers, people who just need a quiet, warm place where they can go to read, write or think. The staff are compassionate and supportive. It must be reopened, permanently.