Man Booker shortlisted author Graeme Macrae Burnet has backed a national campaign against Scottish library cuts, launching today (14th February).
The Scot who used his local library to write and research his second book, His Bloody Project (Contraband), is backing the Libraries Matter campaign from librarians body CILIPS, which will run in the lead up to the local government elections on 4th May 2017.
Macrae Burnet said: "As a regular user of libraries, I know what a fantastic range of services they provide to people of all ages and backgrounds. At a time when we are concerned about literacy, education and inclusiveness, we should be championing the crucial role libraries play in our communities."
The nationwide campaign, which has already gained support from Trainspotting (Vintage) author Irvine Welsh, responds to the threat of closure and reduction in public and school library services by championing libraries as "the driving forces in our communities, delivering more than just access to books".
The campaign will also champion school libraries. According to a CILIPS spokesperson: "Research shows that professionally staffed librarians help pupils achieve higher exam scores."
As part of the campaign, CILIPS will ask government candidates if they will invest in public libraries, as well as ensure school libraries are staffed by a trained, on-site and full-time librarian.
John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: "While many people are increasingly accessing information digitally, many others are left behind. Libraries are not just about books but also provide an essential community resource for people to get free advice, information and awareness of what's available in their communities in a safe and friendly atmosphere."
Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of Educational Institute of Scotland, said: “Scottish education is focused on closing the attainment gap and raising standards. School libraries are a key element in delivering these ambitions. Many children don’t have ready access to books at home, for example, or indeed the wider resources, which school libraries provide such as computers and even just a space to study. And over and above the resources, school librarians are highly skilled professionals who know how to assist and support students. If we are serious about our ambitions for Scottish Education, school libraries deserve our support.”
Library supporters are also being encouraged to get involved on Twitter and Instagram by sharing why libraries matter to them, along with a photograph holding a sign of the campaign’s hashtag, #LibrariesMatter. Sample signs can be downloaded from the CILIPS’ website.
The new campaign follows on from CILIP Scotland’s work in schools. Last year the body launched an advocacy strategy for school libraries and promised to campaign for libraries at national level.
CILIP is also campaigning against library closures in the rest of the UK and last year called for a national library strategy to be set out for England.