People of Westerton step up campaign to save their local library

Westerton Hall and library'Photo by Emma Mitchell'10/5/13
Westerton Hall and library'Photo by Emma Mitchell'10/5/13

Residents of Westerton have been ramping up their campaign to save their local library from closure.

Bearsden  and Westerton Community Council hosted a well-attended meeting last week and have launched a Supporters of Westerton Library Facebook page with around 300 members and various other activities are underway, such as the distribution of petitions and leafleting.

Marjorie McCumesty is the community council’s treasurer. She said: “Although the bottom line is to save our library we appreciate that perhaps the library is not sustainable in its current format but is still an extremely valuable community space.

“A more flexible layout e.g. moveable shelves would allow the space to be used more for a variety of activities, for example. after school homework club, code club,  classes, meetings etc.

“Better opening hours are also needed. At the moment the library is closed on a Saturday and only open one evening during the week. Could volunteers help with this? We also thought a cafe would be good!”

The community Christmas lights switch-on will take place on Friday, November 30, from 6pm until 8pm. The library will be open to offer children’s activities while campaigners also plan to set up an information stall to allow members of the public to find out more and have a say on what they would like to see from their library in future.

The Literature Alliance Scotland, a literary membership network, has also written to council leaders Councillors Andrew Polson and Vaughn Moody to speak out against the proposed closures.

Chairwoman Peggy Hughes said:  “We understand this recommendation, if approved, would effectively close almost 40 per cent of the public libraries that serve your constituents. I do appreciate that East Dunbartonshire Council is under pressure to make financial savings and difficult decisions have to be made, however, the argument for investment in public libraries is strong.  

“Libraries are crucial in providing access to literature, assisting digital literacy, and improving people’s chances in life. Reading is Scotland’s favourite cultural activity, which brings with it important health benefits.

“In fact, a 2013 study conducted by the Scottish Government shows clear and significant links between cultural participation and improved health and wellbeing.

“Public libraries provide meeting places where people have access to culture, knowledge and the chance to learn. In fact, successful countries, such as the Nordic countries and The Netherlands, are actively strengthening and building upon their existing networks of public libraries. They see them as the principal way for their societies to provide local democratic access to knowledge and culture in the digital age. Importantly, libraries are vital to improving literacy in Scotland, and they provide equal opportunities for everyone in a safe, warm space.

“Scotland has long been known for its strong support for public libraries, and for the excellent network of libraries that has already been created for our citizens.

“We would encourage maintaining a strong viable network of libraries in your local communities, so that people who live in East Dunbartonshire can have a library close at hand which is easy for them to travel to and to use.”

Libraries in the East Dunbartonshire local authority area are operated by a council-owned trust. Earlier in November the board of this trust voted to close libraries in Lenzie, Milton of Campsie and Westerton as part of a cost-saving effort and to centralise the service around larger lending hubs.