Books

Ian Rankin and Val McDermid condemn plans to close 16 Aberdeen libraries

The cash-strapped council will shut down all but one of its public libraries

libraries credit robin byles

Aberdeen Council announced plans to close all but one library in a budget set to hit public services hard – and top authors have spoken out about the “depressing and disappointing” proposals.

Rebus creator Ian Rankin told The Times that “to see libraries treated as disposable assets rather than cherished hubs of their community is disheartening to say the least”.

The cuts, expected to close 16 publicly run libraries as well as reducing funding for public toilets and community centres, will save the council £863,000. Only Aberdeen Central library will stay open.

The council’s budget plans could force more than 200 people out of jobs.

Crime writer Val McDermid called libraries “a lifeline”, adding that libraries are “an easy target” in times of austerity.

She added: “Closing them burns the seed corn of the future. The trouble with councillors is that they never set foot in libraries as users.”

The proposed cuts come ahead of World Book Day on March 7, when children – and library staff – across the globe will celebrate reading and proving #WhyBooksMatter.

As many as 816 libraries have been shut down since 2010, 127 of which closed last year. 3,600 are still in operation.

Earlier this year a Centre for Studies report showed that libraries were receiving 40 per cent less funding than in 2009-10.

Pick up a copy of the Big Issue’s World Book Day special from Monday.

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