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libraries a go-go

Libraries in Midlothian are touting for business by offering pole-dancing.

And why not, as long as the queue to get your books stamped isn't too long because the librarians are busy performing athletic moves such as climbs, spins and body inversions. We must assume the library dancing with poles is of the gymnastic, keep-fit variety and not the erotic writhing kind apparently to be seen in dodgy clubs.

There will also be an opportunity to participate in Scottish country dancing. Birl your partner with gusto in a Strip the Willow up and down the aisle near the books on how to do first aid in the event of cardiac arrest. Or a more intimate St Bernard's Waltz behind the Mills & Boon shelf. The ambience of the afternoon tea dance is enhanced by the availability of home baking.

Children of all ages will take part in computer games competitions. Which is predictable since libraries are more and more like amusement arcades.

Note that these entertainments are available only for Love Your Library Day on February 2. Go back after that date and the place might just be full of old codgers falling asleep over the newspaper.

Should any high heid yin from Glasgow city libraries be wondering what can be done to attract more people into their premises, here's an idea. The battle is lost out on the main floor where mothers with buggies, greetin' weans and no end of worthy community support groups are going about their business with hustle and bustle.

So how about an inner sanctum for those who want to read? A place where silence reigns and where librarians of the old school police any talk above the merest whisper. A place where children learn to be quiet or face ejection.

A place where the only noise heard is the rustle of book pages.* Or the occasional squeak of a comfortable armchair in front of a coal fire. Sofas would be good.

It should not be out of the question to have a cup of coffee and a scone or even a wee amontillado before you go home for your tea.

*Kindles and other e-book reading devices will be allowed if only to permit the downloading of Tom Shields: 57 Varieties of Tomato, a compendium of these columns (only £1.53 on Amazon).

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