Comment: Library loss could be damaging for youngsters

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Newtongrange Library is set to close, and Julie Read warns that its loss is threatening damage to prospects of a younger generation

Proposals by Midlothian Council to close Newtongrange Library, incorporating it into the new Newbattle High School, have prompted a big response.

If the library moves from the heart of the village, where it is accessible to all, two important groups will be disadvantaged – preschool/primary children and life-long learning.

An Oxford University study shows that reading improves life chances.

Statistics from www.educationscotland.gov for Newbattle High show 24 per cent of leavers are destined for unemployment compared to 15 per cent in Midlothian and 11 per cent in Scotland.

Our daughter is destined for this school and this is not an attractive prospect. It’s essential that we encourage reading from an early age, to prepare our children well (academically but also behaviourally so the teachers can engage them in the curriculum) for high school and to set this as a precedent. Too many libraries are closing; the detrimental effects won’t be immediate perhaps but they will be big.

Politicians talk of British society as “broken” of a community, of “parents failing to teach their children right from wrong”. Libraries provide a vital contribution to the wellbeing of communities and society; where all ages can meet, learn and interact on a non-discriminatory basis.

With a passion for education, creative education specifically, I have taught art and design for many years at higher education, and am now co-ordinating the campaign against the proposal.

Let’s encourage our young to imagine, read, create things from their wildest dreams, to express themselves how they wish – this is enabled by good community facilities.

Library = knowledge and imagination = life.

Julie Read is co-ordinator of a campaign against proposals to close Newtongrange Library. She runs Portfolio Oomph, which provides online support covering all aspects of applying to art college.