CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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#LibrariesAreEssential Policy Responses – the Scottish Liberal Democrats

As part of our #LibrariesAreEssential campaign in the run-up to the May 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, we asked the main parties standing for election in Scotland to answer a short series of questions about how their policies meet the needs of Scotland’s libraries and librarians. Below are the responses we received from the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

What commitments can your party give to support libraries and librarians over the next parliament?

Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first. We will have a needle-sharp focus on jobs, mental health and education. Our offer is a liberal one. At the heart of our plan is education and good public services. Libraries are an important part of that and are the centre of many communities.

We will support libraries to innovate and increase footfall. Orkney Library is a brilliant example of how services embed themselves in their communities. It has 74,000 followers on twitter alone and everyone in the islands values it and knows how much it offers. It is a local hub. Shetland Library is running a young writer competition – another great example of community outreach.

When threats arise, we will establish a rapid-reaction service, like the Partnership for Continuing Employment, to bring together public agencies to explore how community assets can be maintained. We will also establish a right for communities to protect threatened facilities through different ownership or the use of shared premises.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will have a needle-sharp focus, without distraction, to repair the damage caused by the pandemic to our communities and public services. We will value the experience of frontline workers, listen to them and help them lead us to recovery.

What steps does your party intend to take to combat misinformation and disinformation and do you see information professionals and libraries playing a role in these efforts?

The dramatic rise in fake news and conspiracy theories has gone unchecked for too long. We will condemn the spreading of fake news or inflammatory rhetoric by those with public platforms.

Social media is now where many people get their news. We need the UK Government to introduce stricter regulations for social media companies such as issuing fact-checked corrections to inaccurate posts, and amending algorithms to de-promote misinformation and fake news. We support a strong free press to challenge the powerful and do the investigations that are often so critical to exposing wrongdoing.

We should avoid the polarisation, binary thinking, over-politicisation, sound bites and extreme controversy that is particularly poorly suited to covering nuanced and complex debates. The pandemic has shown how important it is for people to have reliable and trusted sources of information. The Liberal Democrats will continue to champion those who provide accurate and impartial information, from our world-class public broadcasters to grassroots initiatives such as those which libraries are involved in.

What steps would your party take to ensure that local government has the resources to deliver library services that meet the community needs?

Good decisions about local services are best made locally, with democratic local authorities given the power to act in the best interests of the communities they serve. Local government in Scotland has suffered from centralisation and loss of control.

We will strengthen local governance in partnership with local councils, recognising that reform has stalled under the current government. We will develop a fiscal framework with local government that recognises the important work that local councils do, the freedoms they need to innovate and serve their communities, and their need for a fair share of Scottish Government resources. We will give a full power of general competence to local authorities to allow them to meet the needs of the people they serve.

We recognise that local communities did a power of work during the crisis to identify and support those people in need in their areas, so we will listen to the experiences of communities during the pandemic and give them the chance to empower themselves more formally.

Does your party believe all school pupils should have access to both a school library and a trained professional school librarian?

At this election our Education Bounce Back plan offers unprecedented new entitlements for pupils and staff and extra resources in every school. The answer to the pandemic isn’t to make children sit at desks for longer. Instead, our plan will make every hour learning count for more.

We know that children can find inspiration from the time they spend in school libraries to their weeks away at outdoor residential centres. We want to ensure that no child misses out on those formative experiences. We know the value of this access. It is why Scottish Liberal Democrats have just secured an extra £80 million for education in the budget. We needed everyone possible for our NHS. Now we need the talents of everyone possible for education, from teachers, to pupil support assistants, instrumental music staff and school librarians. They’ve all got an important part to play. The last year has been hard. People deserve better than a government that is distracted. With the Scottish Liberal Democrats there is a chance for change. You can put recovery first.

To return to the main campaign page and read the other policy responses we’ve received so far, please click here.

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