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Support Our Libraries: Book Close Amid Popular Mass Protests In Glasgow As Libraries Prepare To Open

The latest reading protests yesterday took place outside the Couper Institute Library in Cathcart and Maryhill Library, which are among seven in the city that have remained closed for about 22 months.

Mhairi Taylor formed the Save the Couper Institute and Library campaign with friends after meeting in their local pub one afternoon last May. Yesterday she attended the library’s last reading – actually a silent protest with books – along with a similar event at Maryhill.

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Support our libraries: Launch of the Scotland on Sunday campaign

Activists have fought to open the Whiteinch Library for the past nine months. Tomorrow (Monday), it will finally open its doors. Pictured are supporters Maureen Cannell (59) with her grandchildren, Mallory (5 months) and Mathew Gallacher, during the summer. IPC: John Devlin.

Both will reopen on Monday, along with Whiteinch and GoMA, after Covid recovery funds were secured from the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council funneled a further £100million into Glasgow Life, the organization that manages the leisure and culture in the city. Barmulloch will open on January 31.

Ms Taylor, who is head of equalities and diversity at the University of Glasgow, said: ‘When we heard the funding had come through, we felt very victorious, to be honest.

“I’m really looking forward to going to the library next Saturday and reading a book, instead of sitting outside with one.

“It was fun doing the readings during the summer, but it’s a different story when you’re too cold to even take your book out of your bag.”

The Couper Institute’s public hall and library, Cathcart, was also the subject of a well-organized community campaign to open its doors. It will open its doors tomorrow. IPC: John Devlin.

Around 40 supporters regularly attended the readings each week, with a robust team of 15-20 people always showing up on the coldest days.

Ms Taylor said: “On a personal level, I am really pleased that we have put in the effort, but I am more satisfied on a community level.

“It’s a resource that we have left here. It’s a place where you can walk, where you can get out of the house. If you’ve lost your job, there are computers, there are printers. Macmillan holds sessions there, AA is there. These are all so important to the well-being of the community. It goes far beyond the library and the books.

Libraries have closed across the country due to the Spring 2020 lockdown, with well-planned community campaigns erupting in several parts of Glasgow last April and May after the City Council began reopening some libraries and no others, with fears that the health emergency will be used to justify the permanent closure of services.

Activists began to physically dominate library spaces. In Whiteinch, poems and posters were attached to railings, where also hung books with reimagined titles that showed Glasgow’s ruling forces.

Robert Mellish, from the Save the Whiteinch Library campaign, said a rally would be held tomorrow for the “grand reopening”.

He said: “We’ve been running a solid campaign for nine months and the idea was just to keep the pressure on. One weekend we had 200 people at the reading. We were very organised, very disciplined. I think that the board was quite surprised.”

Councilor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The city has advocated for the extra funding which means every library now has a reopening date. Although we should not forget that Maryhill and Whiteinch Libraries still need substantial capital investment for the future; I can’t wait for all the libraries in Glasgow to be able to welcome people through their doors again.

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