Wednesday 19th August 2020,
North Edinburgh Community News

Edinburgh Council urged to reopen libraries

The chief body advocating for libraries in Scotland has urged Edinburgh City Council to follow other major UK cities and open its branches back up again.

Despite libraries already reopening in the likes of Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York and Leeds, Edinburgh has kept its library facilities across the city closed.

Two thirds of libraries in Scotland have already reopened to the public, however at a meeting earlier this month the council voted not to unlock the doors to its 30 branches until at least early next month, at which point plans detailing specific dates for reopening will be published.

Once dates have been confirmed, libraries will reopen in three phases.

In phase one staff will return to branches to make preparation.

Then, in phase two, libraries will reopen to the public for returns, hearing aid batteries, free sanitary provision, internet access, limited lending and borrowing and bus pass application processing.

Finally, in phase three group activities and clubs for adults and children will restart.

In a private letter, Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive of the Scottish Library and Information Council, has urged Council Leader Adam McVey to do all he can to reopen Edinburgh’s libraries in “a timely manner”.

Ms Tulloch wrote: “I appreciate that colleagues in the City of Edinburgh Council are working extremely hard to try and bring venues back.

“However, for those who are digitally excluded and to support children and young people who have been particularly disadvantaged by the pandemic, I urge you to do everything possible to facilitate the reinstatement of the public library building infrastructure for Edinburgh residents in a timely manner.

“Edinburgh Libraries have strong and solid user base within the City. I am sure that in these strange times people need access to their libraries more than ever.”

Conservative Group Chair, Cllr Jason Rust, said: “It is quite clear that Edinburgh is the exception rather than the rule with cities and towns across the UK re-establishing their library service at a much faster pace.

“With over two thirds of services re-opened it is disappointing that there is such slow progress in our capital city.

“We have called for a report outlining a definitive timescale for re-opening libraries. The current closures are furthering digital exclusion and restricting educational and learning opportunities and it is shameful that the council is acting in such a sluggish way.”

Edinburgh City Council has been approached for comment.

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