Has Fife Council learnt nothing from its cack-handed attempt to fool parents into agreeing to the proposal to shorten the school week by pretending it was all about improving the service rather than simple cost-cutting? Now it’s trying the same trick with libraries, as if extending mobile library provision and adding bells and whistles to a few regional ‘hub’ libraries will make up for axing 16 local libraries.
I doubt Fifers fighing to keep their local services will be much impressed by tthe Fife Council’s leader’s finger-wagging sermons about the need for change. Libraries have been evolving to meet the changing needs of service-users. The multiple community protests the threat of closure has provoked are no exercises in nostalgia. Rather they demonstrate how people from the very youngest to the very oldest in our communities need and value their local library services.
If it were to live up to its name, the Fife Cultural Trust would be fighing tooth and nail for an enhanced role for local libraries, not colluding with a dishonest plan to deplete the service.
By the same token, a Labour-run Council could be expected to be more sensitive to the needs of vulnerable individuals in rural communities in Fife. Deprivation and disadvantage may be less visible here than in urban areas, but it is real as north-east Fife’s premier position in the statistics for fuel poverty show. If people can’t afford to heat their homes, they can hardly afford the travel for a special visit to the ‘hub’ library.
If footfall is the key criterion for keeping a local library open, Fife Council has an argument for shutting down all the public services which are still located in villages.