Edinburgh council confirms reopening of libraries used as Covid testing centres

Council chiefs have confirmed that three popular Edinburgh libraries are set to be returned to their local communities after more than a year of being used as Covid testing centres.
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The branches in Oxgangs, Leith and Newington are to be handed back gradually from March 31. The council said significant work would be required to allow services to resume safely and securely but it was hoped the libraries could begin to reopen from the end of April.

However, Sighthill Library will continue to be used as a testing centre for the time being because Wester Hailes Library is judged to offer an alternative within easy reach.

Oxgangs Library is one of the buildings being returned to the council.  Picture: Google StreetviewOxgangs Library is one of the buildings being returned to the council.  Picture: Google Streetview
Oxgangs Library is one of the buildings being returned to the council. Picture: Google Streetview
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Previously announced plans for the temporary relocation of services from Leith Library to Fort Community Centre will continue, with a view to opening in the middle of March, before the library can reopen.

And the temporary mobile library service for Oxgangs will continue two days a week at Oxgangs Bank – every Monday evening from 5pm to 7.30pm and every Thursday from 10am to 4.30pm – until the library reopens fully.

The agreement to return the libraries to the council came after depute leader Cammy Day formally asked chief executive Andrew Kerr to write to the UK and Scottish governments saying Edinburgh wanted its libraries back.

Culture and communities convener Donald Wilson said: “It’s been a priority for us to have our libraries back up and running again as they are invaluable resources for local communities. There’s so much more to libraries than just borrowing books – they are trusted and much-loved hub buildings which strengthen local communities and are essential for the wellbeing of our citizens. I’m delighted we now have a plan going forward to return them to their communities where they belong.”

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And vice-convener Amy McNeese-Mechan added: “No one should underestimate the value of these facilities to local communities, and the understandable demand there has been to bring them back into use. We’ll do everything we can to bring forward these timescales as far as possible. I really hope reopening these libraries will bring some relief to those who’ve missed them during the pandemic or are still struggling with its effects.”

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