Update on Maryhill and Whiteinch Libraries

Update on Maryhill and Whiteinch Libraries

Public libraries have been at the heart of this city’s communities for the last 150 years, founded on a powerful sense of equity and justice and built on the principle that no-one should be excluded from making a better life because they did not have the means to access the power of reading, information and discovery. That remains as true today as it did for our Victorian ancestors.

Those founding principles align perfectly with Glasgow Life’s mission to inspire people in the city to lead richer and more active lives through culture, sport and learning.

The global pandemic of Covid-19 has forced significant changes to how Glasgow Life operates. It has affected our ability to open venues as well as our capacity to operate the broad range of sporting and cultural programmes, events and experiences we are proud of delivering for the people of Glasgow and visitors to the city. We are working hard to maximise the impact of the funding available. We are now able to open more than 90 venues across the city, including 88% of Glasgow’s much-loved libraries.

Since the announcement of which venues we are now preparing to reopen, there has been particular interest in Maryhill and Whiteinch libraries. Both libraries have served their communities for a century or more and introduced many generations of Glaswegians to the power of reading and discovery.

We have been discussing options for how to continue to deliver library services for both communities since before the pandemic.

The buildings need significant upgrades in order to make them safe and usable places for communities to visit. Both venues have other Glasgow Life facilities nearby. (Maryhill Library has a Glasgow Club nearby and Whiteinch has the Scotstoun Campus within a short walk.) We have therefore been exploring the feasibility of moving library services a short distance in each instance into a new co-located arrangement with other Glasgow Life services. It is entirely understandable that any changes to services and the venues which host them would generate uncertainty and concern amongst users and the wider community. However we are committed to finding solutions to the challenges created by both the impact of age and Covid and to continuing to deliver library services within the Maryhill and Whiteinch communities.

The benefits of co-location have been well accepted for a number of years now across Glasgow as a creative way of maximising the scope and impact of important community services by sharing some operational requirements and costs. Solutions like this are vital as Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life seek to find the best ways of delivering community services across the city as efficiently as possible. Examples of this include Milton where the Glasgow Club Gym and local library are based in the same building attached to the local school; Springburn where the local gym, swimming pool and library are based together or in Pollok where Glasgow Club facilities, the local library, a small community museum space and the local health centre are all housed under one roof.

In line with Glasgow City Council’s ‘Heritage Asset Strategy 2019-2029’, the council and Glasgow Life will continue to explore viable and positive uses for the city’s heritage buildings. Options will be explored through the People Make Glasgow Communities initiative which the council launched in February this year and which has already received over 150 enquiries. Along with our partners at Glasgow City Council, we are determined to ensure that no building will be left to decline.

Glasgow Life will reopen the first phase of its facilities on 26 April. This will mean 18 community libraries and the Mitchell are open for people to use.

As part of the next phase of its openings up to August, Glasgow Life will open another 8 libraries. Glasgow Life will additionally put in place temporary, pop-up library services in Glasgow Club Maryhill and at the Scotstoun Leisure Campus. These pop-ups will offer access to books, access to IT and a range of other much-needed library information services while plans are finalised for the delivery of future library services.

This will ensure a library service remains for Maryhill and Whiteinch communities in the immediate future and the longer term.

Glasgow’s library service has been a lifeline for many people during lockdowns and Glasgow Life is focused on ensuring people have access to them in line with commitments made by Glasgow City Council.