Long-term funding needed to keep Glasgow libraries open past April

The fight for the future of five libraries in Glasgow will continue, with long-term funding needed to keep their doors open beyond April.
The fight to keep Glasgow’s libraries open is not over yet. The fight to keep Glasgow’s libraries open is not over yet.
The fight to keep Glasgow’s libraries open is not over yet.

Almost £450,000 from a Scottish Government relief fund will allow Maryhill, Whiteinch, the Gallery of Modern Art and Couper Institute libraries to reopen before the end of January.

The library in Barmulloch, currently part of a building being used as a vaccination centre, will also open in early 2022.

But the funding, announced yesterday, will only cover opening the buildings until the end of the financial year.

Council leader Susan Aitken said her administration intends to keep the libraries open, and is “making Glasgow’s case to the Scottish Government”.

Glasgow Labour group leader Malcolm Cunning has called for more than just a “sticking plaster”, demanding a “full funding package” so the libraries can open for years to come.

The Scottish Government will announce its budget for the next financial year on December 9, with Glasgow’s council expected to set its own budget in February.

Cllr Aitken said: “We have always been clear that we would reopen libraries when funding allowed. This funding allows us to reopen these libraries earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

“We still have to set the council’s budget for next year and we are still making Glasgow’s case to the Scottish Government, but it is our intention to find the resources to keep these libraries open in the new financial year.”

She also said the libraries at Maryhill and Whiteinch “need substantial capital investment for the future”.

Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure facilities on behalf of the council, had to shut down venues in March last year when the pandemic hit, wiping out income.

A £100m guarantee from the council allowed 90 buildings to reopen, but many, including the five libraries, have remained closed.

Campaigners have been calling for the remaining venues to be reopened, with regular protests outside libraries.

Responding to the funding announcement on social media, the Save Whiteinch Library campaign said: “Given previous obfuscation by the city’s leadership, we remain sceptical that they will return a full library service to our community or the other affected.

“We need to see swift positive action now, not more spin.”

Cllr Cunning said cutbacks have “led directly to the closure of these libraries” and the new funding “falls far short of the £1.25m-a-year required to fully reopen all five libraries”.

The city’s Conservative group has also called for a long-term plan to secure the future of the libraries.

And Greens councillor Jon Molyneux said: “There’s something seriously wrong when statutory services need either commercial income or charitable grants to simply open their doors.”

He added public library services need more sustainable funding.