Many thanks to everyone who came along to the protest at Cambuslang Gate yesterday – it was great to see so many people of all ages from across the community supporting the principle of public library services for  all. We appreciate  too the cross-party support from all our elected members – Councillors, MSP and MP. Thanks also to Clyde 1 and Go Radio for coming along and broadcasting news of our campaign to save the libraries.

At the protest, we said that there are some positive steps in the direction of retaining a public library in Cambuslang (although no news about Halfway and Blantyre). So, what’s happening?

Apologies for the long post, but it needs some explaining.

About three weeks ago, we (Cambuslang Library Action Group) were invited to a first meeting with the South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) Executive Director of Community & Enterprise Resources, and the CEO of South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture (SLLC). They explained the background to the financial situation facing SLC and SLLC and their justification for the cuts to libraries and halls. While useful, we were not convinced of  the reasons for focusing cuts so severely on libraries and halls. Just a couple of months ago, an SLLC consultation found libraries and halls at the top of the list of community facilities that local people valued as being important to them and their communities. Golf courses and museums came bottom of the list yet are not being closed. Of course, we’re not advocating closure of golf courses or museums, but it indicated to us the lack of a logical basis for the cuts. It was said that usage of Cambuslang Library provided less value for money than, say, Rutherglen. Yet, Rutherglen Library has had huge investment as part of the town hall upgrade, with more to come, and its opening hours are almost twice those of Cambuslang Library (something that we’ve been complaining about). The SLLC ‘modelling’ ignores the social importance of  Cambuslang, Halfway and Blantyre libraries, and that they serve some of the most deprived areas of South Lanarkshire. We were also puzzled by the fact that SLC/SLLC have a long-term lease on the library space in Cambuslang Gate, so closure of Cambuslang Library would produce no saving on lease costs.

We didn’t (and don’t) like the use of terms like ‘withdrawal of services’ and ‘reprovisioning’ and ‘community library’, which SLC/SLLC used to discuss their intention to find an alternative home for Cambuslang Library, with the Cambuslang Institute being a favoured option. We proposed thinking differently about a solution: for some years, Cambuslang Community Council has been developing a proposal for a community hub at 152 Cambuslang Main Street, taking over a vacant unit, Our intention has been to refurbish the empty unit for a mix of commercial and non-commercial uses. We said this proposal could be modified to rehouse Cambuslang Library. SLC responded positively and asked us to prepare a paper for a next meeting.

On 6 May, we sent SLC/SLLC a position paper (link here: Cambuslang Library Action Group – Options for Library Provision – 6.5.24). This said that we don’t see the Cambuslang Institute as a viable option, that we prefer retaining Cambuslang Library in its current location, and that we should jointly work on a third option, that of relocating Cambuslang Library to a new community hub. We also emphasised our red line that any option adopted must retain a public library system. Our paper has some details of our original proposal for a community hub and the plans that we drew up a few years ago. This paper was intended as the basis for discussion at our planned meeting with SLC/SLLC on 14 May.

However, this week were were asked to meet sooner with SLC/SLLC, before the protest, and we met both senior officials on 8 May. The officials said that:

  • they no longer consider Cambuslang Institute as a viable option because of accessibility, lack of space and limited parking;
  • they had also looked at Eastfield Lifestyles but rejected this on similar grounds as well as distance from the town centre;
  • they are now proposing to retain Cambuslang Library in its current location in Cambuslang Gate until a new, appropriate space can be found;
  • they want to work with us on the community hub option.

In response to questions, they confirmed that the future options would involve a public library service. This is important because it means that Cambuslang Library would continue to be part of the public library network in Scotland, would be run by qualified library staff and have access to the SPYDUS public library management system (governing new books, information etc).

We welcome these proposals as an important development and will work with SLC/SLLC.

However, there are some important questions left unanswered. These include the following:

  • SLC/SLLC are still set on some ‘reprovisioning’. This could mean fewer staff, less stock, shorter opening hours, fewer outreach services, less access for community groups etc. We would be unhappy with any of these and we need to discuss further what SLC/SLLC are thinking.
  • Are we guaranteed the current library service at Cambuslang Library until a new option is agreed? The Cambuslang Library staff are a fantastic team and they, like the community, deserve answers on their future.
  • What about Halfway and Blantyre libraries? As yet there has been no discussion with the communities that rely on their libraries, although SLC/SLLC said it is their intention to open discussions on these also.

We have our next meeting on 14 May and will report back to the community.

In the meantime, please continue to sign and spread the Save Our Local Libraries Petition on There are paper copies in Costa, Pandora’s gift shop and other shops.

The fight continues!