Mar 24 2010 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge
MUM of three Elaine McCondochie is urging North Lanarkshire Council to reconsider its decision to close Whifflet Library, for the sake of her kids and the local community.
Hundreds of local people are backing her fight to stop the facility closing and moving to the Buchanan Centre building in town, with 647 pledging their support by signing a petition that’s been handed in to the council.
Elaine (36), from Shawhead, explained: “I have three daughters, ages 15, 10 and six. For me to travel to the new library would cost more than £7 in bus fares for us all to get there and back. One of my girls has needed extra help with her reading and writing and she uses the library a lot.
“It’s ridiculous to close it. We need decent facilities and I understand they have to make cuts somewhere but they should really be looking at improving the existing library and not moving it out of the local community,” she said.
Elaine had leaflets printed and, within a couple of weeks, hundreds had signed a petition, which came as no surprise to her.
She said: “I’d been talking to local people and some pensioners were telling me that the library hasn’t been getting in new books for a while, so some of them are already having to go to other libraries. It’s as if the council have been intentionally running down the place so they can argue that people aren’t using it.
“I think the consultation process for this was back in 2001 but the demographics of the area have changed. I didn’t even live here then and neither did most of my neighbours, so we haven’t been consulted.”
Elaine believes that keeping the library could help lower crime rates in the area.
“I set up the Shawhead Youth Club a few years back but there’s nothing for young people apart from that. The kids need something to do or they just become destructive. We need places like the library to get them off the streets.
“The council is spending a fortune cleaning up vandalism,” she said.
“Not everyone in this area has computers or broadband at home and there are no internet cafes in Coatbridge so why not spend money on upgrading the computers and install a cafe that could bring in some income. The staff are great and it’s a nice clean and bright building.”
Barbara Philliben, Community Learning & Libraries Manager, said: “Coatbridge and Whifflet libraries are merging and will be based in the new £17 million Buchanan Centre in Coatbridge.
“The building, on the former baths site, brings together council and health services in one location – making it easier for local people to use the services they need.
“The new library will be fully accessible and offer a far greater range of services and learning opportunities than is currently provided.”
Over the next few weeks the council is also planning to hold consultations on their mobile library service provision.
Barbara Philiben continued: “We will also be increasing the number of mobile library visits throughout the town – including the Whifflet area.”