Glasgow North West MP, Carol Monaghan, has criticised the decision to permanently close Whiteinch Library. Glasgow Life – a local body which organises cultural, sporting, and educational programmes for the city’s residents – made the decision to close the library, citing funding shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whiteinch Library, which opened in 1926, stores thousands of books and countless learning resources. It also hosted community events and classes before the pandemic began. For the past year, the library has remained closed in line with lockdown safety measures.
Glasgow Life initially announced that the library would re-open in the future, whilst remaining temporarily closed for refurbishment. However, on 15th April this decision was revoked, and Glasgow Life confirmed their plans to permanently move Whiteinch Library resources to the Scotstoun Stadium complex.
This move has attracted near unanimous condemnation from Whiteinch residents, who have launched petitions and written to Glasgow Life, local councillors, and Carol Monaghan MP.
The library closure coincides with the announcement that there are no plans to re-open Victoria Park Tennis and Bowls, another important public facility.
Commenting on the situation, Monaghan said:
“Whiteinch Library is not only a stunning period building; it is also a local landmark that Whiteinch residents, myself included, are very proud of. It has been at the centre of our community for nearly a century, providing a vital educational and recreational service for young and old alike. I grew up enjoying the facilities in Whiteinch Library and have many happy memories of poring over wonderful books there. It is a testament to the principle that learning should be locally accessible to all.
“As a community we know all too well that, unless protected, historic buildings can very easily fall into disrepair. The library is located just round the corner from the historic Whiteinch Swimming Baths, which were closed and turned into flats, and is on the opposite corner to Whiteinch Burgh Hall which is currently disused and boarded up. Local residents are adamant that they do not want to lose the last functioning Victorian public building in the area.
“We all understand that the pandemic has caused considerable problems for public funding bodies. We have all tightened our purse strings in these exceptional circumstances, and organisations such as Glasgow Life are no different.
“However, closing Whiteinch Library and rehousing its books elsewhere is not an adequate solution. Scotstoun Stadium is a considerable walk from many of Whiteinch’s residential areas and is not as well-served by bus routes as Whiteinch. For many older residents, this will make a library visit far more challenging.
“In addition, although Scotstoun Stadium is an excellent community hub in its own right, it is a sports and leisure facility – not a library. Relocating library services there would not only reduce spaces available for sport; it also wouldn’t provide the calm and quiet environment needed for a library.
“In the digital age, I understand that our behaviours have changed considerably. In the age of Kindles and e-books, some would argue that physical libraries are diminishing in importance. Whilst I accept that our behaviours have changed, this should not herald the closure of public libraries. They are an invaluable educational resource, community hub, and record of local life and history. They provide access to learning for those who are digitally excluded, and are thus an inclusive, essential service.
“Understandably, many Glasgow North West constituents are outraged at these announcements regarding the library, as well as Victoria Park Tennis and Bowls facilities. I have been contacted by several constituents on this matter, as has my SNP colleague Bill Kidd MSP.
“Regarding Whiteinch Library, I will fight to keep this beautiful and vital community service open. I have written to Glasgow Life requesting a meeting and will update constituents on this.
“Concerning Victoria Park Tennis and Bowls facilities, I have already been in touch with Glasgow Life on this matter. However, I will continue lobbying for these to be reopened, and for additional funding to enable this to happen.”