Libraries face uncertain times

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By Mark Davey

This year has seen a literary feast at Campbeltown library with a wide range of talks as well as new publications on offer.

The world of book lending is not all rosy though as a BBC investigation has revealed that almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total.

That same BBC study revealed that 343 libraries closed in the UK in this six-year period and dozens of libraries across Scotland have been closed in the past year – and the figure has doubled in the space of a year.

In Scotland, there were 3,515 paid library jobs in 2010 and 3,416 in 2015 – a drop of 99 (three per cent), a BBC report found.

Laura Swaffield, library activist and chair of the Library Campaign said: ‘The free PCs in libraries are an absolute lifeline to the many who can’t afford IT, or figure out how to use it without help – more than 15m people UK-wide.

‘Benefits claimants are top of the list – forced to do all their paperwork and job searches online whether they can afford IT or not.

‘Libraries are more vital than ever in the digital age.

‘But the overwhelming reason people use libraries is still to borrow books.’

From figures supplied by Campbeltown library its top ten adult authors, by borrowing, for 2018 were: 1 M C Beaton, 2 David Baldacci, 3 James Patterson, 4 Harlan Coben, 5 Dilly Court, 6 Alexander McCall-Smith, 7 Clive Cussler, 8 Wilbur Smith, 9 Peter May, 10 John Grisham.

The most borrowed books in Scotland in the past year: 1 The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins, 2 Even Dogs in the Wild: The new John Rebus – Ian Rankin, 3 Make Me – Lee Child, 4 Coffin Road – Peter May, 5 Night School – Lee Child, 6 Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney, 7 In the Cold Dark Ground – Stuart MacBride, 8 The Last Mile – David Baldacci, 9 Personal – Lee Child, 10 Rather be the Devil – Ian Rankin.