ALMOST £500,000 funding has been secured to help five Glasgow libraries reopen their doors after lockdown closures.


Five libraries, Whiteinch, Maryhill, the Couper Institute, GoMA and Barmulloch, had been unable to reopen following the pandemic and Glasgow Life, the arms-length organisation which runs culture and leisure services said they needed £1.2million to get the remaining venues up and running.
However, an application to the Scottish Government’s £1.25 million Public Library COVID Relief Fund has been successful.

Read more: Glasgow needs an emergency funding deal to lift it out of crisis, say campaigners
The government cash injection for city services comes as The Herald has been leading a campaign calling for A Fair Deal for Glasgow and for its cultural assets and collections to be appropriately funded.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow communities have been desperate for libraries to reopenGlasgow communities have been desperate for libraries to reopen

The Couper Institute; Library at GoMA; Maryhill Library and Whiteinch Library will reopen at the end of January. However, the city council said Maryhill, Whiteinch and Couper libraries are historic buildings which will require substantial capital works in the future. Barmulloch is due to be used as vaccination centre until the end of January.

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “We have always understood how important libraries are in their communities – and that is reflected in the financial guarantee the council extended to Glasgow Life to ensure more of these valued venues were able to open sooner, after being closed by the pandemic.

 

“The council committed to explore any possible option to make sure every library is able to reopen – and the city made a strong case for this very welcome additional funding, which will make that possible.

 

“We need to be clear that Maryhill and Whiteinch libraries both still need substantial capital investment for the future; but I am looking forward to all of Glasgow’s libraries welcoming people back through their doors.”

 

 

 

Councillor David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life, said for the first time since the start of the pandemic this funding will ensure that 100% of Glasgow’s libraries will be able to reopen.
He said: “I recognise that the extended temporary closure of some libraries due to the financial impact of the pandemic has caused worry in communities but today’s announcement sees the fulfilment of our promise to communities to reopen all of Glasgow’s library services.
“I’m grateful to the staff team at Glasgow Life for developing a strong bid and to colleagues at the Scottish Government and the Scottish Library and Information Council for recognising the vital importance of Glasgow’s local libraries.”


The relief fund will support 23 projects around the country to re-connect communities with their libraries.
Applications were made through the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and allocations will also support reading and STEM education programme.
While priority was given to applications which support deprived areas and communities, all library services across Scotland were invited to apply for the fund.

Read more: Scottish library ‘co-locations’ idea could mark a new chapter for vital service
Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “These funding allocations will support public libraries across Scotland. Libraries that closed because of the pandemic will re-open and others will be able to widen the services that they offer their local communities.
“Libraries are so much more than a place to borrow books. This fund will see the provision of community-centred projects aimed at, among other things, reducing social isolation, promoting mental wellbeing and reducing the poverty-related attainment gap.
“This funding is part of the Government’s wider aspiration to drive a cultural recovery for our communities. I look forward to seeing how libraries use this support to benefit their local area and to working with the library sector on our future recovery plans”.

HeraldScotland: Councillor David McDonald welcomed today's newsCouncillor David McDonald welcomed today's news
Ian Ruthven, chairman of the Scottish Library and Information Council, said: “Public libraries are an essential part of Scotland's social fabric, supporting and inspiring people to fulfil their potential for over 150 years.
“Improving mental wellbeing, tackling social isolation and closing the digital divide are some of the key aims of public libraries. The Public Library COVID Relief Fund will allow local public libraries to reconnect with their communities and offer these much-valued services.”


There is also almost £23,000 for a targeted home library service in Glasgow, operating from six libraries, which will work with referral partners, including GPs and the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership.
And £9,088 has been announced for an early years literacy project, working with 40 families from a “literacy hotspot” in Glasgow’s East End, where “49% of children live in poverty”.