SCOTLAND’S top crime authors have condemned “disgraceful” library closures across the country.
Ian Rankin and Val McDermid both credit local libraries to their flourishing writing careers.
McDermid, best known for her series of suspense novels featuring Dr Tony Hill, goes as far as to say she “would not be a writer if it were not for the public library system”.
But last week it was revealed that regions such as Fife plan to shut almost a third of their branches.
And the renowned authors have strongly criticised the move, saying that it “throws away” important values.
McDermid, who grew up in Fife, said: “What does this do to our culture?
“We complain all the time about young people not reading books, but if we make it harder for them to get books, reading is not going to increase.
“Libraries are there for people who can’t afford books, or whose family don’t see any value in reading books.”
She added that she grew up in a family with no money to spend on novels.
“Frankly, I would not be writer if it were not for the public library system,” she said.
“In Fife we have a library built with Andrew Carnegie’s money – those industrialists understood the value of educating people.
“These are the things we are losing. These are the things we are throwing away.”
Ian Rankin, famous for his Inspector Rebus series, spent much of his spare time as a child in Fife’s Bowhill library which is due to close.”
He said: “I’d take out the maximum number of books allowed each week and remember the thrill of being told I’d reached the age where I could have an adult ticket and take books from the adult fiction section.
“I learned so much from those books, and can still smell the dark wood panelling.
“I was back there a few weeks ago. The interior was much changed – smaller and less maze-like than I remembered, but it was still a place of wonder, as all libraries should be.”
A new report on the current state of the UK’s libraries reveals that more than 100 branches closed last year – resulting in a 14% drop in the total number of libraries since 2010.
Fife council’s decision to shut 16 of its libraries will see their total number drop from 51 branches to 35.
Council leader David Ross said that the closures were “difficult decisions that we face in a time of unprecedented financial challenge”.
“We recognise the impact the loss of branch libraries could have on local communities and are committed to mitigating this impact as far as we are able.
“We will support the affected communities that have expressed an interest to provide an alternative library service in their area.”