Helen Martin: The problem with unstaffed libraries

Libraries in Edinburgh are like community centres. Picture: Neil Hanna
Libraries in Edinburgh are like community centres. Picture: Neil Hanna
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EDINBURGH’S trial of unmanned libraries is nothing new to me. Ireland pioneered the idea and in the rural Midlands where my family are from, the village library works smoothly on that basis.

The worrying difference is how a library is defined and used there and here.

Everyone knows everyone in little Eire villages.

Social life for all ages revolves round the church, the pub, shops, camogie or hurling games, and farming “stuff”. A library is a place for books and local history.

READ MORE: Edinburgh libraries to operate without staff in pilot study

Here in our city, libraries have taken on the role of community centres for the lonely, the elderly, mums and toddlers, offering everything from crafts to games and author visits, IT classes and information about council services and help.

With automated pin number entry and no staff, what is the risk of vandalism or theft? More importantly, the community spirit and support they have provided would disappear.

READ MORE: No new books at Edinburgh libraries due to IT problems