Alternative delivery models for three closure-threatened Fife libraries have been given the green light by councillors.
Members of the region’s executive committee have approved Falkland Village Hall Trust’s plan for a community takeover of the library facility in Falkland.
Meanwhile, a joint business plan from the Glenrothes Area Residents Association (GARF) and West Glenrothes Tenants and Residents Association for a community-run library in Glenwood — replacing the town’s Glenwood Library — has also been given the go ahead for further progression.
And with Abbeyview Library in Dunfermline due to close in March 2017, councillors also agreed to interim arrangements to accommodate a community book borrowing service in Abbeyview Local Office until a wider review of community facilities in the area is progressed.
The committee heard that two plans had been submitted to take forward library services in Falkland, with Lomond Pharmacy Limited putting forward a counter proposal that would have seen the pharmacy and library co-located in the existing library building.
However, the Trust’s blueprint was favoured, and the council will now enter into discussions with them about lease arrangements for taking over the Falkland library building when Fife Cultural Trust ceases a statutory service at the facility in Spring 2017.
In relation to Abbeyview and Glenwood, the new options are being progressed after feasibility exercises at Woodmill and Glenwood High Schools concluded that it was not viable to incorporate library services into those schools.
Council leader David Ross said: “We very much welcome the range of proposals that we’ve received for alternatively run libraries from the affected communities across Fife.
“We’re having to make very difficult decisions as a result of our financial challenges and the review of Fife’s libraries has been an emotive and difficult one for everyone.
“We have supported the communities that have expressed an interest to provide an alternative library service in their area and I’m pleased that we have had positive engagement from community groups, so are now in the position where it looks like at least half of the communities affected by the library closures will have alternative library provision available to them, as well as the continuation of mobile library services across Fife.
“When the changes are fully implemented we will still maintain one of the largest statutory library networks in Scotland with 35 libraries and two mobile libraries.
“The proposals for continued library provision in Abbeyview and Glenwood will complement the current initiatives for the wider regeneration of the areas.”
The move comes after SNP group leader Brian Goodall failed with an amendment which called for the original decision to close Abbeyview and Glenwood to be overturned, and for the people of Falkland to be given a vote on which delivery model they preferred.
In relation to the latter, he said: “While in an ideal world we’d like to see the library saved as it is, this decision should be taken by the people most directly affected by it.
“It would be a small vote, it wouldn’t have to be a full on referendum, and I think it is something that could be delivered relatively inexpensively and would provide a more satisfactory outcome.”
However, councillors voted 11-5 in favour of the administration’s original motion — with many committee members praising the work of local volunteers who had worked up their plans to this stage.
Depute leader Councillor Kay Morrison added: “We should not be trying to slow the whole thing down by placing obstacles in people’s way. We should be doing everything we can to facilitate this work.”