Edinburgh's Oxgangs library will stay shut until at least next spring while ugrading work is carried out

Oxgangs Library will have been closed for at least a year by the time it reopensOxgangs Library will have been closed for at least a year by the time it reopens
Oxgangs Library will have been closed for at least a year by the time it reopens
A CITY library will remain closed until spring next year because of work needing done on its roof and heating system.

A CITY library will remain closed until spring next year because of work needing done on its roof and heating system.

Oxgangs Library, like all libraries in Edinburgh, has been shut since the start of lockdown in March. Six reopened earlier this month.

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However, by the time Oxgangs opens again it will have been shut for at least a year.

Heather Levy, chair of Firrhill community council, said the situation was "a shambolic nonsense" and argued the work should have been done while libraries were closed.

She said the library was where people were used to going not just for books and computer access and maintaining social contact but also to get their bus passes, attend ante-natal classes and even get their hearing aids repaired.

"Oxgangs library is one of the busiest libraries in the city - it's only beaten in numbers by McDonald Road and Central," she said.

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"With all the isolation there has been in the community with Covid the last thing you need is a building which has been made the centre of the community to be closed for a year.”

The nearest alternative libraries are Fountainbridge, which Ms Levy said involved two buses, or Wester Hailes.

The building work at Oxgangs library, which includes full roof replacement and installation of a new boiler, was planned to start in June for a 16-week period bit the council says it could not go ahead because it was not not classed as essential. Once restrictions were eased, the council appointed a contractor on August 19 and work started on September 28.

The council says the work is planned to last 21 weeks in order to comply with Covid guidelines.

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“The work will stop for two weeks over Christmas and New Year and with the roof work progress being subject to weather, we are planning for the works to be completed for a target date of mid-March 2021 – subject to ongoing review.”

The re-opening date will be subject to considerations on preparedness, access, resources and cleaning.

The library door-to-door drop-off service for older customers across the city who have mobility challenges will continue to operate from the lower floor during the project.

Colinton/Fairmilehead Conservative councillor Jason Rust said: "It is disappointing that at a time when other city libraries are finally re-opening, albeit after virtually every other authority in the UK, that Oxgangs will not be open until towards summer of next year.

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"While the work is clearly necessary this seems to have been an extremely slow process notwithstanding Covid. I would also have hoped that this work would have been taken into account in determining the reopening of other libraries given both Colinton and Morningside the two nearest to Oxgangs both also remain closed. It seems a large part of the city is again missing out under the Council's plans."

A council spokeswoman said its priority was the safety of library users, staff and the tradespeople involved in the restoration project. “We appreciate the inconvenience the closure will cause some users and we’ll continue to do all we can to support people to access what they need through their nearest alternative library and our online services.”

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