#LibrariesMatter – Campaign Support
I grew up in a scheme where every house and street pretty much looked the same. As a kid it was essential to have your imagination fueled by a psychic portal into different worlds. That was my library in Muirhouse. That was why I became a writer and why camera crews from all over the world and Hollywood film stars and executives descended on my home town for the premiere of the film of my book.
I wouldn’t be a writer if not for libraries – I simply wouldn’t have had access to the myriad worlds of books otherwise.But it’s not just fledgling writers who need libraries. It’s all of us. Whatever our dreams or ambitions, we find stepping stones in libraries.
I am supporting this campaign because I believe that libraries matter. They’re about so much more than borrowing books — they’re a vital part of communities because they provide a startlingly broad range of facilities and opportunities to all sorts of individuals and groups. Libraries are the seedbeds of our future and, at a time when we’re already facing a skills gap, they should be at the heart of our future strategy as a country.
There was no bookshop in the village where I grew up but there was a wonderful library which provided me with all the knowledge, adventure and fun I could wish for. I’ve been passionate about libraries ever since.
Graeme Macrae Burnet
As a regular user of Scotland’s libraries, I know what a fantastic range of services they provide to people of all ages and backgrounds. At a time when we are concerned about literacy, education and inclusiveness, we should be championing the crucial role libraries play in our communities.
Libraries existed before books. In Nineveh, Babylon and Ephesus, information held on animal hide and stone and custom-made tablets were held in the most revered buildings in the known World. The burning of the ancient library at Alexandria in 84 BC is still a symbol of “knowledge and culture destroyed” in our own time.
Properly stocked and supplied with librarians, libraries have always offered access not just information, stories or history, but to every aspect of human imagination and experience. In the here and now, when internet and phone searches are monitored and data-culled, our choices stuffed with trivia, brand-values and junk, nothing is more important than access to genuine, not fake, knowledge. We need to look after libraries – our most democratic source of mass knowledge – as long as we can.
I am supporting this campaign because I agree that libraries matter. They matter because they are like churches in the religion of learning. It’s not merely about the books on the shelf: it’s about places that nurture a love for literature.
I discovered my local library when I was still a Primary School, and it soon became my favourite place. These days when I visit schools and kids ask ‘What made you want to be a writer?’ I always say – the books I discovered in that library, and the librarians who helped me to find even more. Libraries are a precious resource – we should be opening more, not closing the ones we have.
Liz McGettigan, CILIP in Scotland President 2017
I’ve been in the library and Information industry for over 30 years so I remember well when the library’s role was to equalise access to the knowledge, skills and opportunity required for Joe Public to learn, thrive and succeed and the only means to do that was through access to books. Fast forward and that currency moved from books to equalising access to the internet and online information so we put PCs and online resources into libraries and offered sessions to skill up our customers. Fast forward again and now the job is also about equalising access and skills around the new and fast developing technologies from 3D printing, coding and circuit making to self-publishing and augmented reality.
We have a potentially fabulous, statutory network of unique places across the country, promoting and strengthening democracy, entirely devoted to our literacy, tech skills, to our social, educational, health and cultural wellbeing. Improving quality and delivering on so many local and national agendas and all in one place. Places where our children and teens are safe, where lonely and elderly people are welcomed.
Libraries are places where not only can we start learning about new technologies, but spaces where creativity, collaboration, and play thrive. Libraries are an incredible environment and community to foster hands-on learning and exploration.
Never has there been a more challenging yet exciting time to work in libraries and information. We now operate in a digital world, technology is disrupting everything we do and at the same time putting more power and choices into the hands of our customers.
Better libraries make better communities – the implication is obvious: invest in libraries because they matter.
Theresa Breslin, Carnegie Medal winning author of over 40 books; Hon Fellow of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies; Past President of CILIPS.
The library is the beating heart of a community.
In this digital age and in the present economic climate libraries and librarians are absolutely crucial. The Internet is in itself a vast library, but it is an unregulated one. One of the key roles of libraries is to provide access for everyone to any information they may require and ensure that professional staff are available to share skills in locating and evaluating that information. The provision of literature for self-advancement or for pleasure promotes literacy, cultural awareness, and social and emotional competence. In addition to this, libraries are vibrant spaces hosting a wide-range of activities.
The benefit of libraries to young people is staggeringly enormous. To raise attainment and aspiration our youth need a wide variety of books with trained staff to guide their choices and promote reading initiatives. This is fundamental to developing children’s reading habits. Literature based cultural events are often organised by librarians. Our country cannot afford to lose these book groups, poetry slams, story times, author visits etc. In particular school libraries provide a unique access for young people to Scotland’s national literature and that of the wider world. Removing library access from a child’s life will do incalculable damage.
Cuts to book budgets, library opening hours, mobile services, branches, and the drastic and unnecessary deletion of professional posts strike at those most in need of a library service and those least able to protest against the cuts in that service – the less affluent, the elderly, the frail, asylum seekers, people who are challenged mentally and physically and their carers, those who look after babies and toddlers and, crucially, our children – who are our future.”
Amina Shah, Director of Programme, Scottish Book Trust
Scottish Book Trust believes books, reading and writing have the power to change lives. A love of reading inspires creativity, improves employment opportunities, mental health and wellbeing, and is one of the most effective ways to help children escape the poverty cycle. Many of our programmes are delivered in partnership with libraries, and we value the opportunity to work together to reach communities across Scotland.
We work with school librarians to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative activities, organising children’s book prizes, and bringing a huge range of exciting author events directly to schools all over Scotland. Public libraries are often at the heart of local communities, hosting everything from Bookbug sessions to author events for adults. We appreciate the hard work and support of librarians especially during Book Week Scotland, a week-long, national celebration of books and reading.
We work towards a Scotland where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive through literacy and that’s why libraries matter.
Nick Barley, Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival
Last year more than 100 libraries in Britain were closed – just at a time when we need them more than ever. Libraries matter because they give everyone access not just to books, but to ideas, community and the shared values that keep our society healthy. Closing libraries is a false economy: it won’t come close to solving the funding problems faced by local government –and without libraries we are depriving people of public amenities in which to participate actively in their community. As Voltaire said, we must cultivate our garden.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival is reliant on partnerships with library staff across Scotland. From Aberdeen to North Lanarkshire, we are inspired by fleet-footed librarians who are adapting their roles and activities to respond to the challenges of this digital century.
Ali Bowden, Director, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature
Libraries are the beating heart of our City of Literature. They are portals that transport people of all ages and backgrounds into the many fantastic worlds provided to us through fiction. They are a haven for words that inspire and entertain; places of possibility and discovery that foster a love of literature, strengthening the very foundations of our society.
Nik Williams, Policy Advisor, Scottish PEN
Through both the books on their shelves and the Internet they give access to, public libraries are the gateways through which many people realise their fundamental human rights. Giving communities a space to explore, express themselves and inform themselves, libraries are a vital resource for encouraging and supporting civic engagement and involvement.
We cannot talk of public involvement without addressing how people can build up their knowledge, understanding and confidence on the issues that can then empower them to take part. Active involvement and engagement requires spaces within which people can experience opposing points of view to shape their opinions. Nowhere is better than libraries to deliver this service.
Scottish PEN is an organisation that represents writers and the connection between writers and libraries is obvious and important. If writing is the expression of challenging, new and original thought and ideas, libraries are the spaces that make it possible for these ideas to reach every community across Scotland – and that is an awesome power that should not be underestimated.
Libraries are the heartbeat of communities. A place to get lost in new worlds and interesting facts. They are welcoming, inclusive spaces to meet people, explore, discuss and learn. A world without libraries would be that bit darker.
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive, Young Scot
The central purpose of Young Scot as the national youth information agency is to support young people as they make meaning in their lives as they grow and face vital transitions into adulthood. Access to information is a vital part of this – and we cannot overlook the importance of libraries in this and the huge potential they have to transform the lives of young people.
They are a place where all young people can grow creatively, access information and connect with services that otherwise might have been out of their reach. Libraries also have the potential to bridge the gap between emerging digital technologies and young people. Things like the commitment to providing free Wi-Fi access across public libraries are important elements in ensuring that no young person is left behind. If you care about young people, you care about libraries. #LibrariesMatter.
Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
Libraries in Scotland can play a vital role in helping people to access information that supports them to live well and work with local organisations to signpost people to sources of support, as shown by the award winning Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries partnership.
Scotland’s libraries are fantastic examples of the rich assets which exist in our local communities that support health and wellbeing and the ALLIANCE is delighted to support CILIP in Scotland’s campaign to spread the word that #LibrariesMatter.
Frank Pignatelli CBE CCMI, former Director of Education for Strathclyde Region and former Chief Executive of the Scottish University for Industry.
Effective and successful schools make certain that library services are strategically linked to school priorities thus ensuring that their impact on teaching and learning attainment is significant and tangible.
Joanna Murphy, Chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland
Libraries are magical places. The books within them have the potential to take you to the four corners of the earth, into space, under the sea – anywhere and everywhere. Within those four walls everyone is equal. We are all searching for the right book…..
We can discover a new author, browse the shelves, investigate the bestsellers or pick up an old friend. Books have a special power…
Parents have many aspirations for their children and learning to read is always one of them. The library is an important part of any community and is increasingly relevant in cash strapped times as community hubs, providing access to computers and free wi -fi.
Our libraries are priceless gifts for our young people. #librariesmatter
Dr Martin Goodfellow, CoderDojo and Coder in Residence, Glasgow Life
Thanks to libraries I’ve managed to create a sustainable framework of coding clubs for young people in Glasgow, in partnership with CoderDojo. CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community based programming clubs for young people, aged 8-17. Without libraries we would have struggled to handle the demand for coding in Glasgow or to be able to make classes accessible to all. The majority of CoderDojo sessions are full with waiting lists, therefore, to handle the demand we used libraries to increase the number and frequency of clubs throughout Glasgow. A barrier with some other clubs is that not all young people were able to travel to them and they required their own equipment to participate. By rolling the clubs out into libraries we could offer the same opportunities in young people’s local communities where equipment was already available. In addition, these coding clubs will help address the digital skills gap in Scotland.
Roderick Watson, Universities Committee of Scottish Literature
Libraries, school libraries and school librarians are the first crucial gateway towards a world of books for many children. Discovery, pleasure, learning and creative judgement all follow freely from our encounter with books of every sort. Books open a lifetime’s engagement with knowledge and empathy, which are the seeds of democracy and all that makes us human.
Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director, Wigtown Book Festival
At Wigtown Book Festival, we believe 100% that #LibrariesMatter. Libraries are places to work, place to think and gain access to ideas, inspiration and information, whatever a person’s financial situation. All these things benefit not only each individual using a library but all of us, by helping make society smarter, fairer and more inspired. So to cut support for libraries is an act of self-harm as much as anything else.
Lady Joyce Caplan, Chair of Poetry Association of Scotland
Libraries are resource and an exploration. A place of discovery and reflection .Without them I would never have gained the life path I did , as a child in a mining village whose family valued books but could not afford them. They are still a valued part of my life.
Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, EIS
Scottish education is focused on closing the attainment gap and raising standards. School libraries are a key element in delivering these ambitions. Many children don’t have ready access to books at home, for example, or indeed the wider resources which school libraries provide such as computers and even just a space to study. And over and above the resources, school librarians are highly skilled professionals who know how to assist and support students. If we are serious about our ambitions for Scottish Education then school libraries deserve our support.
Eileen Prior, Executive Director, Scottish Parent Teacher Council
Children, parents and teachers appreciate school libraries and the advice of dedicated librarians. They contribute to the learning of children and foster a love of books which is a life-long gift. At a time when literacy is a key priority in our schools, the role of libraries and librarians is even more critical than ever.
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
While many people are increasingly accessing information digitally, many others are left behind. Libraries are not just about books but also provide an essential community resource for people to get free advice, information and awareness of what’s available in their communities in a safe and friendly atmosphere.
Asif Khan, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library
Coldside Library and Dundee Central Library were like a second home to me, providing safe and nourishing spaces for my adventurous mind. To possess a library card was my first experience of empowerment when growing up: “You can be trusted to care for and return these receptacles of knowledge, imagination and humanity.
Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support recognises the important role libraries play as a focal point in communities for all kinds of events and advice. That’s why we invested funds to set up Macmillan information and support services in libraries across Glasgow and this year will be rolling out similar services within libraries in other areas, including Edinburgh and Lanarkshire.
Libraries provide a welcoming and warm space for us to engage with people affected by cancer in their local area and our successful partnerships with libraries have enabled us to reach even more people and provide all kinds of support in a non-clinical environment.
We are very grateful for the space we’ve been given in libraries to provide this service and the opportunity to be part of the wide range of useful local support that they offer.
The Big Issue (via their own #WhyBooksMatter campaign)
Our future success is dependent on providing the next generation with the tools they need. And literacy is key. Without reading skills, doors will close and futures will be darker. Attainment gaps widen between poorer students without access to books and their better-off contemporaries.