Glasgow libraries are more vital than leisure facilities

This was the new smoke detector regulation which will be in place in Scotland from the start of next year.

A very important development that every homeowner should be aware of and which will hopefully reduce the risk of fire and by sounding the alarm sooner will save lives.

In addition to the importance of fire safety, what caught my attention was how to get more information.

You can go online at mygov.scot/firealarms

Or, since many people, especially many older people, do not have access to the Internet, you have been offered the alternative “or get a leaflet from your local library”.

There is a fly in this particular ointment that Glasgow Times readers will be all too aware of.

There are a number of libraries in Glasgow that are closed and, despite claims that they have not been closed, have no reopening date, not even a rough wait.

Five in total, Whiteinch, Maryhill, GoMA, Barmulloch and the Coupar Institute are on lockdown.

The fact that the government directs people to their local library highlights the importance of libraries within walking distance for people in the communities.

They are more than places to borrow books and have been for a long time.

Borrowing books in and of itself is reason enough to prioritize efforts to keep them open and have them reopened, but they do so much more.

These are local centers where people can get information on major national developments like fire alarm safety changes, but also where they can get information on local services, community groups and events.

Yes, the world is moving more and more online, but there is a danger that we leave a large part of the population behind.

It is not only older citizens who are less likely to have Internet access.

A lot of them are doing it and embracing the technology, but a lot of them don’t and don’t want to either.

Many don’t want to incur the additional cost of an internet connection and a device with which to access the internet.

Cost is also a barrier for many others. A monthly broadband bill, added to the cost of the technology to use it, is beyond the reach of many people in this city.

Poverty levels in Glasgow are well documented and show no signs of improving.

The looming universal credit cuts, when the £ 20 hike is phased out, coupled with rising supermarket prices and transport costs, mean those on the lowest incomes are going to face financial pressures. even more important than they already are.

This means that they will be further excluded from society and will depend on the good intentions of others through community groups and charities.

There are many local organizations all over Glasgow trying to help and stepping in to fill the void left by the government.

But how can people know about these services?

Some may prioritize spending on a mobile phone and the Internet as they see it as more of a necessity than a luxury, but for some it will be too heavy a bill.

When the choice is data or dinner, human instinct tells you that food comes first.

Glasgow Libraries have long provided internet access for people, just as in the past it was a place to read newspapers for free.

When people need information and need to be referred to local services that can help them access food or advice on benefits and debts, and the many other issues people face, a local library is important.

In this case, it can be seen not only as a recreational facility, but as a vital service that every community should have.

The Scottish government has announced a £ 1.2million fund to reopen libraries.

In Glasgow the council could spend the entire amount as it is reported that it would cost at least that, if not more, to reopen those that remain closed.

Libraries can and should be a key part of community recovery from the pandemic and part of the Scottish Government’s response to policies such as austerity and welfare cuts over which it has limited control.

The Prime Minister recently said he could not simply replace cuts made by the UK government at Westminster, such as the £ 20 per week increase. It is, she says, “unsustainable”.

But as part of the steps the Scottish Government can take to help people access alternative services, it can ensure that local services are supported to enable and foster greater community resilience.

So, if the Scottish government recognizes the importance of local libraries as community assets, it needs to provide more money now, than the £ 1.2million, to reopen the libraries.

And then he has to make sure that in the future the boards are properly funded to make sure they don’t need to consider shutting them down when finances are tight.

They are essential facilities for community empowerment, local learning and access to services.

We should take this as read.

About Ricardo Schulte

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