Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The treasure that is our local libraries

The author Stephen McGinty has written a great piece in Saturday's Scotsman on the joys of rediscovering his local library. In fact more than that - the library has rekindled his passion for reading.

He sets out the range of services available in a modern library that explains why library useage is on the increase, even if the number of books taken out is down. It's also great value, as he says:

"Economists in a report published this week have calculated the monetary value of various sporting and cultural activities and what came out on top was that regularly visiting the library is, in terms of satisfaction, the equivalent of a pay rise of £1,359. By comparison, playing a team sport has a value of £1,127. This is a remarkable return on investment, as our library service costs us each about £21.90 a year in taxes."

I particularly liked the "rotating carousel containing the racier titles". I recall my time as NALGO Branch organiser in the 1980's, when the County Librarian used to have a cupboard in his office for books that had been the subject of complaints from sensitive readers. Times have changed!

He concludes:

"The green and blue cardboard library tickets of my childhood have long since been replaced by a plastic card, but it is still a key to a kingdom of riches. Economists may value a library at £1,359, but to me they are priceless."

We could not have put it better ourselves!

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