Call to save Falkirk libraries before it’s too late

Libraries are under threat in Falkirk
Libraries are under threat in Falkirk

Union officials are “gravely concerned” over proposals to cut library services after Falkirk Community Trust announced its business plan.

As children and adults across the country were enjoying Book Week, it was announced there would be a reduction in staff numbers and shorter opening hours within the libraries and mobile library scrapped.

Gray Allan, secretary of Unison Falkirk branch, said cuts to libraries would amount to a total of £432,000 and 29 per cent of the overall cuts.

He said: “While the impact may not be immediately obvious, library book stock has to be continually renewed and replaced. Funding cuts mean fewer popular titles bought with increased waiting times and increasing customer frustration. It means a longer wait for that bestseller novel and no new material on developments in particle physics or detailed analysis of Middle East politics.

“Stock will get grubbier, footfall will drop and the service will go into a tail-spin, making it easier for the powers that be to justify further cuts.”

The mobile library service currently provides access to books for people in peripheral areas but under proposals this would be cut, leaving a home bound service for those who are entitled to it.

Gray said: “Staff will be cut by a total of 17 full time equivalent posts. While no libraries are under threat of closure they will be operating with reduced staff and will be unable to offer the full range of services. Children’s activities, craft sessions, author visits and events are all at risk.

“Libraries are a vital part of a democratic society, providing access to ideas and information, they strengthen literacy an attainment, improve health and well-being, digital literacy and employability.

The trust said libraries expenditure is to receive a £100,000 reduction over the next two years and the business proposal for 2016-17 will be considered by Falkirk Council in February.