I'D been waxing lyrical about libraries, as I am prone to, and my colleague asked me a simple, simply flummoxing question.

"Do you actually use your local library?" I was indignant. Of course I did. How very dare the very thought.

Do I actually use my local library? Do you know what, I don't.

I think often about this question and my harrumphing response, largely because there are so often reasons to think about libraries and the purpose of them.

Libraries, or at least it seems this way, are more often than not coupled in newspaper headlines with the phrase "under threat". And so it currently is.

As has been well publicised, in Glasgow the arm's-length body responsible for libraries has suffered swingeing financial losses due to the pandemic, some £38 million.

Glasgow Life has been pressured, time and again, to give clear answers as to when the city's public sport, leisure and culture facilities will reopen with muddy responses in return.

Many venues have now reopened and there is sympathy with financial cuts to what are all crucial services for the city's wellbeing.

For the libraries that are still closed, communities want straight answers about when these facilities will be back up and running. Children and young people have had a long summer without their local libraries and the wait for that age group, in particular, must feel interminable.

Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, who doesn't have her criticisms to seek at the moment, has said that libraries haven't closed - they're just not open. If you're going to come at a population with semantics, readers are not the right population to come at.

We know what words mean and certainly how to use them.

The Scottish Government has said it wants to be a wellbeing government and so sports venues, museums, art galleries, community centres and libraries could not be more essential to this aim.

This means putting its money where its mouth is. However, this week, as part of the programme for government, the SNP announced "a £1.25 million fund to help libraries stay open, particularly in areas of deprivation."

Rarely is a pot of money ever enough to satisfy the desire of a campaign but £1.25m is a paltry sum. As my colleague Deborah Anderson reported recently, as part of The Herald's A Fair Deal For Glasgow campaign, £1.2m would be required to reopen the remaining closed Glasgow libraries with the Couper Institute alone needing £400,000 to open its doors.

In these pages previously I have praised Nicola Sturgeon for being a political leader who is also a reader. You'd bank on a reader leader knowing exactly the non-money cost benefit of libraries and yet the sum spared for these community necessities is so little.

In 2015 the Scottish Government announced funding to have every child in Scotland issued with a library card. What point if local libraries are not protected?

It's so easy to be poetic about libraries, their benefits are so obvious as to write effortless, endless stanzas. They are refuge, comfort, school and friend.

Endless protected hours can be spent entertained in a library with nothing expected in return. They are the last non-commercialised, non-commodified place where young parents can take infants for free and where retirees can find company, if they need it. Job seekers between work can find support.

Lonely children and teenagers can find like minded companions. In a library, everything is there.

My first library was in a university in Sydney, just days old and taken by my student mum. Over the years I have sought solace and satisfied curiosity in libraries around the world - New York, Cambodia and Cuba. In Coatbridge, Dublin, Boston and London. A trip to a new place isn't complete without checking out the library.

I have told this anecdote previously, years ago, but it features a kindness so pure that it is worth telling again.

When I was studying for my Masters, I did all my research in Glasgow's Mitchell Library, the broad, squat scholar looming over the M8 and peering across the city. The librarian took an interest in what I was doing and we had an Antipodean connection so he would chat to me every time I came in.

The printing bill arrived for all the old newspaper pages I was printing from microfiche and it was a significant sum. Underneath the bill was a £10 note to help me cover the costs.

Kindness isn't unique to libraries but it is built into the ethos of gifting and returning, supporting and understanding.

On Saturday it will be the twentieth read-in organised by the Save The Couper campaign outside the Coupar Institute. Supporters are invited to bring a flask of tea and a china cup along - a twentieth anniversary is marked with china - with their book. Similar read-ins have been taking place across the city, peaceful, appropriate and determined protests.

The Pollokshields Library read-ins have seen success with the southside library now reopen. Saturday morning protests are ongoing in other parts of Glasgow, in Whiteinch and Maryhill.

I turn back to that question about using my local library. I have become so accustomed to treating libraries as hallowed spaces I've forgotten their practical application. From the days of visiting Coatbridge Library every single Saturday, I've started buying the books I'd like to read.

Now I complain of having no space in my flat... and ignoring the simple solution.

Save the libraries campaigners will be out in force this weekend again - I am a hypocrite but they are heroes. It's time to return to my own local, Govanhill Library, and rediscover the pleasure of reading books thumbed and shared by others.

Sorry, doing that waxing lyrical thing again - read by others. Time to dust off a cup and saucer and brew a tea for a few.