Day of action in defence of Glasgow libraries

Living Rent Pollokshields and Shawlands branch statement 

 

Saturday 28th November

Living Rent members from the Pollokshields and Shawlands branch are joining forces with Save Our Libraries campaigners on this day of action marking 40 weeks since our libraries have been closed.  

Regular read-ins outside the libraries, involving scores of people, have already demonstrated the strength of feeling on the ground. In just two weeks, Save Our Libraries campaigners and Living Rent members have collected hundreds signatures on a petition demanding answers on the library’s future, gained significant press coverage, and forced councillors and Glasgow Life executives to respond to the campaign’s questions.

From book borrowing and play groups, computer access for everything from schoolwork to Universal Credit, our libraries are much-loved, used and needed community resources, and some of the only indoor public spaces we still have available to all.

Govanhill, Langside and Pollokshields libraries are all situated in communities where some residents experience multiple forms of deprivation, which the libraries help to mitigate - for many of those experiencing poverty, lack of internet connection, loneliness and the need for free childcare/ activity for young people, these places are essential. 

In the words of Glasgow Life itself ‘libraries are a trusted guide at the heart of our communities’. Why, then, is there no clear plan or timeline in place to reopen them? The responses we have so far received from local councillors and Glasgow Life board members remain vague and inconclusive, with no one willing to take responsibility or give details on when these matters will be discussed. 

This is simply not good enough. The Covid-19 pandemic cannot be allowed to serve as a convenient cover for cuts to vital public services and local austerity. While Living Rent fully respects the restrictions necessary to control the virus, there is no excuse for the absence of a long-term plan to ensure our libraries reopen, and for open and honest communication with the local communities they serve. 

As Scotland’s Tenants’ Union, we are clear that as well as fighting for safe and affordable housing, we want our communities to be good places to live. The day of action is a clear sign that local residents are determined to show their support for their libraries, and won’t let Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life pawn us off with vague future commitments. We will continue to apply pressure until we receive the answers we need. 

Our communities deserve answers!