Concern, upset and opposition to the planned closure of libraries by South Lanarkshire Council are spreading far beyond Cambuslang. Big-name authors in Scottish literature are rallying round to support the protest against the proposed library closures and to urge South Lanarkshire Council to think again.

Local author, poet and Sunday Herald columnist, Martin Stepek, got in touch to say:

“I am writing to add my voice to the many people and organisations who want to keep all of our libraries open here in South Lanarkshire. “I fully understand budgetary pressures on local authorities and all areas of life just now. We are living in difficult times. However, some things have a symbolic as well as practical effect on communities. In a world where digital and online and virtual are changing the way we live, and much of that is good for us, some things have to remain to remind us that real connection, face-to-face service, warm, welcoming, reassuring, and familiar presence really matter.

“Libraries are not just about books, but let’s talk about books. They are still, despite Kindle and e-books and audio books, the world’s favourite way of absorbing what writers write. They have existed for thousands of years now, as treasured possessions. They are a way that children can enter magical worlds, and in the process develop magical imaginations themselves. They are a way the eldest in our society can understand life in other continents, and explore historians’ views of the life they have lived. Everything today is available online, but some ways of finding things are better than others. Libraries are precious pillars of society, of communities.

“My mum went to Cambuslang Library in the 1930s and 1940s. So did her siblings. Despite coming from a mining family whose breadwinner father died when the children were still young, three of those children amazingly got to university, and became teachers of other children. They went to the library to learn, and to relax from learning. “I was born in Cambuslang but grew up in Hamilton. I was taken to get my library ticket and take home my first books when I was just four years old. It was a special rite of passage. I believe that this should continue to be a special and important rite of passage for all people in all communities.”

Chris Brookmyre, Scottish novelist and ‘Tartan Noir’ author of Fallen Angel, Quote Ugly One Morning, and All Fun and Games until Someone Loses an Eye, wrote to say:

“I am sorry I can’t join you [at the 9 May protest] as I am at a book festival.  I am a keen supporter of libraries and have seen first-hand over five decades how vital they are to their communities in so many ways, books being only the starting point. We all appreciate that in these difficult times, difficult choices must be made but, in my opinion, libraries should always be among the last things a council cuts when it needs to save money”.

Other well-known authors who posted support and commented on the campaign to stop the library closures:

  • Kirsten MacQuarrie, Scottish artist and author of Ellen and Arbor, and The Rowan Tree, who is coming to Cambuslang to support the closure protest, is passionate about the importance of public library provision. She has written that:

 “As a local resident, what feels especially egregious to me is the way in which the South Lanarkshire decision leaves a barren ten-mile strip of eliminated libraries, cherished community spaces toppling like dominos (for patrons, of course, this is far from a game). Given that so many of the closing branches serve areas of multiple deprivation, the ostensible prospect of volunteer community ownership feels as unrealistic as our most vulnerable library users being able to undertake the hour+ round trip required to their ‘nearest’ equivalent. “

  • Mason Cross, local novelist and author of the Carter Blake thriller series, and Barbara Henderson, award-winning author of Scottish historical and eco-fiction for children, both urged their followers on social media to support the petition against the closures. Barbara Henderson said “without libraries, I wouldn’t be a reader, let alone a writer!”.
  • Louise Welsh, Glasgow-based author of short stories and psychological thrillers, said: “reading is important, but libraries are more than books. They’re study spaces, warm refuges, community hubs, info centres, free access to computers and more!’
  • Theresa Breslin, the Carnegie Medal winning author of books for children and adults, including The Rasputin Dagger, Divided City, and Prisoner of the Inquisition, said she can’t make it to the protest but “will be with the campaign in spirit”.

Other leading authors and figures from the world of books who have signed the ‘Save Cambuslang Libraries’ petition include:  Damian Barr, Keith Boldy, Colin Burnett, Jeanette Castle, Patrick Chapman, James Cosgrove, Emma Finlayson-Palmer, Jennie Godfrey, Felicity Hayes-McCoy, Finn Jensen, Amanda Jones, Gareth P Jones, Marjorie Lotfi, Val McDermid, Liam McIvanney, James Mayhew, Sean McNamara, David Nicholls, Ian Rankin, Estella Rua, Amina Shah, Joss Sheldon, Sara Sheridan, Louie Stowell, Emma Suffield, Yuval Zommer and the Association for Scottish Literature, the Federation of Writers (Scotland), Kidlit Scotland and The Library Campaign.

Tracy MacRury who started the petition against library closures said:

“the support of so many leading authors in Scotland and beyond just amplifies our communities voices with the same message to SLC and SLLC; our libraries are of vital importance to the education and wellbeing of our young people, access to books, social interaction and support for reading and learning. We must keep the lifeline of our communities alive with a public library service to ensure there are the same opportunities for this generation of young people and future generations to come..”

 John Bachtler, Chair of Cambuslang Community Council, which strongly supports the campaign against library closures, said:

We hope that the support of leading authors and those working to promote reading across Scotland and elsewhere for our libraries will make South Lanarkshire Council think again about stripping public library provision from over 30,000 people. Cambuslang has always been poorly served in terms of investment in terms of culture compared to the other three major towns in South Lanarkshire. Losing public library services from Cambuslang, Halfway and Blantyre would create a library desert; this cannot be allowed to happen.”