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Writers condemn "obscene" Scottish library closures
19.02.13 | Joshua Farrington
Writers have condemned the decision by a Scottish council to close seven of its 15 libraries and cut 100% of its art development funding.
The Moray Council made the decision last week, and warned that the present cuts “may not be the end of reductions” as they look to make £30m of savings in the next three years.
Several authors have expressed their anger at the closures, including Tony Black, Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride, Sean Black and Craig Robertson.
Billingham [pictured] said: “Everyone knows that libraries are crucial to our cultural well-being, but in many cases they are also the heart of a local community. Closing them is beyond ridiculous; it's obscene.”
MacBride called the council’s decision “cultural incompetence”. He said: “Can't believe any council is thick enough to completely eliminate their arts funding. Never mind the fact that the decision's doing Moray's reputation no good at all, it's an act of staggering cultural incompetence.”
Black said he had written to the council expressing his concerns, only to be told his letter had been noted. He said: “Libraries are not just places that lend books, they're the lifeblood of communities, if you remove them you remove far more than shelves of books. Many writers will confirm that the local library was their first introduction to the world of words; I know it's where I encountered Burns and Stevenson and the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. My local library sparked my interest in writing and literature and I wouldn't be writing today if it wasn't for that library.”
The Moray Council’s leader, councillor Allan Wright, said that the council’s decisions had been made after full consultations with the public. When the cuts were announced, he said: “[The consultation] has provided some pretty clear guidance on where the axe might fall and where it should be spared. Throughout the exercise, we gave a solemn undertaking that the views we garnered would be reflected in our budget decisions—and they have been.”