CULTURE secretary Fiona Hyslop has urged Moray Council to reconsider its decision to close seven libraries.
She said: “I am very concerned that Moray Council cannot see the value in continuing to provide library services in rural areas and that the Council does not see, in these times of austerity, how much of a lifeline these services can be to the elderly; people with disabilities; those looking for work and families on low incomes where a £10 round trip to the library is not feasible or where the journey on public transport is not practical.
“It is vital that adequate library services are provided for the good of communities across Scotland, and most local authorities share that belief. Moray’s decision stands in stark contrast.”
And if the council declines to reconsider the decision, she has asked that the authority work with the Scottish Library and Information Council to allow them to review the remaining service to ascertain whether it meets the needs of the area.
Ms Hyslop co-chairs the COSLA Sport, Art and Culture Working Group which is attended by elected members from local authorities across Scotland. Public libraries are the responsibility of local authorities in Scotland.
The group is keen to consider whether a libraries strategy for Scotland would be useful and COSLA and the Scottish Libraries and Information Council (SLIC) are considering how best to take this forward.
She said the Scottish Government will continue to work with COSLA and SLIC to ensure the importance of libraries is recognised across the country.
Moray Council Convener Stewart Cree said he had not yet seen the letter from Fiona Hyslop but the authority would respond to the minister.