CAMPAIGNERS have said they will considered legal action against Aberdeen city council as they vowed to fight on against library closures in the city.

A spokesperson for the grassroots group Save Aberdeen Libraries said it had been left "extremely disappointed" by a decision from local councillors to press ahead with the axing of services in the Ferryhill, Cults, Cornhill, Kaimhill, Northfield and Woodside areas.

It had been hoped that a meeting of elected representatives this afternoon would see a reprieve for the community hubs but the schedules closures will go ahead on April 1 in a bid to save £280,000 from the council budget.

Save Aberdeen Libraries picketed outside the meeting and met councillors to hand over "love letters" to local libraries as well as a petition.

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However, they were left disappointed at being barred from speaking at the meeting after politicians voted against changing standing orders to allow a deputation to make a speech.

Campaigner Laurie Mackay said: "Our local libraries give us access to be able to get online, which you need to get a doctor's appointment, apply for housing, apply for benefits, everything important, so these closures are going to have a serious impact.

"We're obviously really disappointed at the fact they refused to change the standing orders to allow us to speak today.


"It really sends a message that councillors do not want to listen to the people that they serve."

Ms Mackay also said that her group has been asking the local authority for information such as footfall at the six threatened libraries and an equality impact assessment for the closures.

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During the lengthy meeting of local councillors in Aberdeen a new equality impact assessment was mentioned but Save Aberdeen Libraries said it had not had sight of the document.

Ms Mackay added: "We had been told previously there was one in progress but it hadn't been completed yet.

"They are closing these libraries on the basis that they have not been used as much as other ones and yet they have reduced the hours of these libraries - in some cases by up to 64% - from what they were in March 2020 and we haven't been given the footfall figures to work out what that means in reality.

"I think there's a great misunderstanding over what a library does. 

"Yes, it's a building with books and books are amazing and important but it's also, certainly in the case of Woodside Library and Cornhill Library, they are the only council-run community hubs in the neighbourhood.

"We all feel really passionately that libraries give people the opportunity to learn, they help with social isolation, they're a place where people's mental health is helped."

Other library services in the city are expected to also see their hours cut to save on running costs in swingeing budget restrictions that also include swimming pools.

The SNP/Lib Dem administration's spending plans were passed on March 1.

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Sean McNamara, Head of CILIP in Scotland, the professional body for librarians, called the closures "hugely damaging" for Aberdeen.

He said: "These closures will be hugely damaging for Aberdeen's communities and a very short-sighted decision. 

"Libraries across Scotland are well used and never been more vital after lockdowns and in a cost-of-living crisis by providing equitable access to books and IT, supporting health and wellbeing and economic development and reducing social isolation. 

"These closures would potentially leave Aberdeen with the lowest provision per person in Scotland and for no detailed community consultation to have been undertaken is outrageous and risks Aberdeen city council not meeting its legal obligation to provide libraries that meet local residents' needs."

The council has previously said that residents will be able to use library services at 10 branch libraries in locations across the city, Central Library in the city centre, or on the council website.

However, locals have reacted in fury to the decision, organising a campaign group, petitions and arranging protests such as a read-in event similar to those seen in Glasgow last year when Glasgow City Council libraries were under threat.

Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, told the BBC that library closures were a pattern seen around the country.

He said: "I understand that councillors have very difficult decisions, and in fact choices, to make that they don't want to make.

"But what is being missed here is not only what a library does for a community but the longer-term benefits of having a library in a community in lots of different areas of life.

"Perhaps the most important thing is an ordinary citizen's access to information, entertainment, instruction and enlightenment."

Aberdeen City Council has been contacted for comment.