Libraries could offer free tea and coffee under new proposals

All public libraries in Glasgow could offer free refreshments after a trial during the winter months.

Glasgow libraries could offer free tea and coffee after initiative proves ‘big hit’ during winter Glasgow Life

There are hopes to offer free teas and coffees at Glasgow libraries, a boss has revealed.

It comes after some libraries served up the hot drinks during the winter period after becoming ‘welcome places’ to help battle the cost of living crisis. 

The move was a “big hit” and “very popular” a council meeting heard as councillors discussed a vision for the cities libraries and welcomed a £10m investment that has been poured into the buildings. 

Andrew Olney, Glasgow Life director of libraries, sport and communities, said: “Our ambition is to provide tea and coffee across the libraries for free. We have to work out how to resource that.”

The bid emerged after councillor Kevin Lalley, Labour, asked about increasing opening hours and libraries offering hot drinks as many areas don’t have coffee shops or they shut in the evening. 

Explaining more about the idea at Thursday’s wellbeing, equalities, communities, culture and engagement city policy committee, Mr Olney said: “At the libraries identified as welcome places we introduced teas and coffees over the winter period and they have been a big hit –  so actually those are free. 

“One of the things we have recognised and had feedback about is that people don’t want to go into libraries and feel they have to buy anything, purchase anything or pay for anything.” 

Mr Olney said discussions are taking place with the council about the welcome places moving forward and the provision of teas and coffees.

He said: “We would struggle to take the tea and coffee away in some of those venues now. I think it is a service that has been introduced that is very popular.”

Responding to a question about longer opening hours, Mr Olney said: “The libraries are back at the opening hours they were pre-pandemic. To increase those hours anymore would require an increased revenue contribution to do that.”

Councillor Roza Salih, SNP, said she is thankful for the investment that has taken place in Glasgow libraries.

She said: “There has been investment in libraries to make them more modernised to attract more young people to use them and community groups.” 

Councillor Annette Christie, SNP, said about £10m investment has gone into libraries over five years ranging from major works to boiler replacement. 

A number of libraries have been refurbished including Castlemilk, Cardonald, Partick and Woodside. Refurbishment of Elder Park Library is underway and funding has been allocated for Bridgeton Library. 

The committee considered a draft ‘vision’ for Glasgow libraries, which will be submitted to the City Administration Committee for approval. 

The draft library refreshed vision laid out five themes and a consultation has taken place. 

A paper submitted to the committee said: “Satisfaction levels were high with the existing service, with 75% of respondents rating it as excellent, very good or good.”

The meeting heard calls for more demographic data on library usage to be collected.

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