Comment: ‘Investment in libraries is well spent’

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THEY have had a tough time of it have our libraries – from being starved of funding and having their hours cut, to being forced to deal with the electronic revolution and books on a tablet rather than a shelf.

Today is a nice reminder that the Capital continues to have a great range of well-stocked libraries which are not just a place to go to pick up the latest blockbuster (or independence white paper) but real community hubs.

The annual list of the most borrowed books is wonderfully ­diverse – indeed, some are not books at all.

From Portugal travel guides and how-to knitting manuals to the latest releases from Edinburgh favourites Ian Rankin and JK ­Rowling, if it’s been published, the ­library will have it.

To the city council’s credit and despite the cutbacks, there is now steady growth in the numbers using the Capital’s 28 libraries with more than three million items borrowed in the past year.

It goes to show that despite the gloomy predictions, rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

They are still providing a valuable and well-used service which proves that investment in their ­future is money well spent.

That investment has seen them successfully diversify through offering things like e-book loans for tablets and setting-up self-service electronic checkouts.

Placed in the heart of communities, libraries remain vital meeting places for a whole variety of local groups and through access to computers offer a window on the world which would not exist otherwise for many residents.

So if you haven’t been for a while, why not pop along and see what your local library has to offer.

You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Your favourite daily newspaper apart, there is still nothing quite like a good book to while away a winter’s evening.