More than £1m to help libraries re-open after pandemic shutdown

The money aims to help libraries to re-open or to extend their opening hours.

More than £1m to help libraries re-open after pandemic shutdown iStock
Campaigners have called for more to be done to help save libraries from the threat of permanent closure.

Funding of over £1m has been announced by the Scottish Government to help libraries to re-open.

It comes as libraries seek to recover after being shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government said that the £1.25m Public Libraries Covid Recovery Fund will allow libraries to “re-connect with their communities”, as the country recovers from the pandemic.

It will aim to support libraries in re-opening or extending their opening hours, as well as fund targeted plans for issues such as digital exclusion or mental health and wellbeing.

Priority will be given to applications which support deprived areas and communities, with all library services across Scotland invited to apply for the fund

Campaigners have held several demonstrations over the last few months calling for action to be taken to save libraries from permanent closure.

In July, it was announced that hundreds of jobs at Glasgow Life, which runs libraries and sports centres in the city, were to be cut.

Culture minister Jenny Gilruth said the reasons for library closures are “varied” and “complex”.

“We hope that through this new fund the power of libraries to inform, educate, entertain and inspire can be unlocked again as part of the recovery from the Covid pandemic,” she said.

“We are aware that while many have returned, Scotland’s library services are currently operating below their pre-pandemic levels.

“The reasons for these closures are varied, complex and sometimes challenging – however we want to see as many libraries re-open as possible, and this fund will help the public library sector bounce back from a challenging time.”

Scottish Library and Information Council chair Ian Ruthven said the fund will help to support the public library sector.

“The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the vital role public libraries play in communities across Scotland,” he said.

“Libraries are at the centre of the collective endeavour to improve literacy, close the attainment gap, promote health, champion wellbeing, pioneer sustainability, reduce inequality, and close the digital divide.

“SLIC is pleased to be working with the Scottish Government to administer the Public Library Covid Relief Fund which will support the public library sector to extend access to these vital services, and prioritise wellbeing as communities continue to rebuild and recover.”