Three Edinburgh libraries to trial dog-friendly days

“Dogs in a library? But their paws can’t hold books? You must be barking mad.”

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 6:00 am
Oxgangs Library is taking part in Bring Your Dog To The Library Day. Librarian Hazel Deans is pictured with her Beagle Flora. Also pictured is Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan (right).

Up until now the only dogs allowed in most libraries were Spot, Lassie, Timothy from the Famous Five and the odd rare visit from a guide dog.

But now three city libraries will be throwing open their doors to pooches every Thursday... as long as they behave.

Central, Stockbridge and Oxgangs Libraries will be introducing Dog Friendly Thursdays from later this week.

The idea was first introduced in Perth with much success and will be trialled over a period of three months.

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It is noted that there are many benefits to making libraries dog friendly. For instance, it can help to tackle loneliness as it encourages people who may be socially isolated but own a dog to come to the library to use the services and meet new people.

After all, dogs are great conversation starters.

It also assuages fears of owners who would like to tie in a dog walk with returning or loaning a new book. There is always the fear that if dogs are left tied up or in a hot car then they may be stolen or have their health impacted.

Fiona Myles, manager of Central Library, said: “People have such a close bond with their dogs in today’s society as they are extremely important to people’s lives. They can be great conversation starters for people who are perhaps lonely when they enter the library.”

She added: “The trial will also change the perception that libraries are unwelcoming places and hopefully we will see more people come through our doors.”

Of course the library will have doggy etiquette guidelines to ensure that all pooches are behaving themselves and having a wagtastic time.

Nonetheless, there are some who fear that they may be unable to use the services due to allergies or fear of dogs.

A council spokesperson said: “This is a pilot scheme running in three libraries over three months and we appreciate there may be some concerns regarding allergies.

“This will be taken on board as part of the pilot and any feedback received. However, there are 25 libraries not participating and we hope any users who do suffer from allergies will feel they are open to them.”

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, vice-convener of the culture and communities committee, said: “If we can get people to come into libraries when they may not have before then it is a massive win. After all we are the world’s first city of literature and with the anniversary for Sir Walter Scott coming up, we should be encouraging as many people to access culture as we can.”

Oxgangs library, which is involved in the trial, thanked Dofos Pet centre who have provided plenty of water bowls and treats for the furry visitors.