Dumfries and Galloway Council is facing criticism after revealing plans to reduce the library service in Wigtown, Scotland’s offical Book Town and home to the internationally recognized Wigtown Book Festival for more than a decade.
The proposed cuts would see the library’s opening hours being reduced from 40.5 hours a week to 17.5 hours a week.
Book Festival director Adrian Turpin told The Herald Scotland that the proposal was “myopic” and undermined the council’s previous support of the festival.
He said: “We are trying to attract people from all over Scotland, and these are people who want to come to Wigtown because they want to be surrounded by the culture of literature. So this is a terrible message to send out to people and a retro-grade step. If this could happen somewhere that's recognised as a book town, who knows what will happen elsewhere."
The plan was also criticised by Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, who said: "We do a huge amount of work with libraries and are against any closures or cuts to services. This decision seems especially absurd given that it is proposed for Scotland's national book town."
Author Philip Ardagh branded the plan to cut the library's opening hours "crazy".
An internet petition launched against the cuts attracted hundreds of signatures within a few hours.
A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said that it had begun a review of library services and was currently consulting with members of the public on how they would be delivered in future. Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, said: "Our integrated libraries are at the heart of our communities, delivering vital services."
The Wigtown Book Festival is now in its 16th year, while Wigtown also has around 20 booksellers.
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