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February 13, 2008

Council reverses decision to axe local library

The Galloway Library in the village of Collinsburgh, Fife was gifted to the community at the turn of the last century. When the Council took the decision to close this much valued local library, the community wasn’t prepared to stand back and let it happen


Prior to the last Council elections Fife Council announced it was to close four libraries in Fife – one of which was in Colinsburgh. This library only exists because of the bequest of Thomas Carstairs Galloway to the Community at the beginning of the twentieth century. The library is well used, with book loans increasing 500 percent in the last two years, and local residents see it as a central and consistent part of their community and of their heritage.

A campaign was begun to save the library in which all members of the community were involved

• A Poster Competition was run for local schoolchildren to raise awareness and support for the campaign
• Signatures for a petition were obtained from throughout the village and presented to Fife Council by schoolchildren and representatives of the Save Our Library Committee.
• Archives were searched both locally at Cupar and in Edinburgh where information/ documentation was obtained regarding the original legal position with regards to Thomas Carstairs Galloways’ bequest. Is this another case of a Council playing little regard to assets that are in the Common Good and should not be treated as part of the Council’s asset base.
• Interest was generated locally, nationally and internationally with input from as far a field as Australia.
• Public meetings, a coffee morning, car boot sale, quiz, swing/jazz night were held both to raise funds and to publicize the campaign.

After many meeting between the Campaign organisers and the Council, the Council eventually agreed to review its budget plans and halted the closure, not just of Colinsburgh but three other libraries due to be closed.
The Save Our Library Campaign Committee, which since the saving of the library has become The Library Users Group, coordinated and channelled much of this activity and now works alongside the librarian and Library Service to make maximum use of the library and its facilities. It is hoped that the Library Users Group, the Village Sports Club and The Town Hall management Committee will combine their efforts and may eventually become a community development trust to work in the long term interests of the community.