12 March 2015

S4M-12195 The Importance of Libraries

The Deputy Presiding Officer (John Scott): The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-12195, in the name of Colin Beattie, on the importance of libraries. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that 7 February 2015 marks National Library Day, a UK-wide day of events that allows users to celebrate libraries and their staff; notes that the events cover a wide range of activities, including book swaps, treasure hunts and author visits; considers that National Library Day is of great importance in highlighting the role that libraries play in communities, including in Midlothian North and Musselburgh; considers that this role can include access to valuable information that would not otherwise be easily accessible to low-income families and households; notes that 3.6% of libraries in Scotland were closed between 2008 and 2013, compared with 7.9% in England and 11% and 11.5% in Wales and Northern Ireland respectively in the same period, and celebrates libraries for their significance in providing culture and education to the people of Scotland.


... ... ...


Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

Welcome to this annual meeting of bookaholics not very anonymous. I am very privileged to be part of that group.

Libraries are a valuable source of information. They also protect our heritage over the long term. It is no accident that one of the first things that totalitarian regimes and extremists generally go for is books and libraries. ISIS has destroyed 100,000 books in Mosul in recent weeks. In April 2003, the national library and archive of Iraq—hundreds of thousands of books—was all but lost.

When the Japanese went to China during the second world war, one of their first targets was to destroy books, and more than a million books and documents were destroyed. Of course, in the 1930s, the Nazis notoriously burnt books with which they disagreed.

Books can be radical and extreme and they are highly varied. We should value them in all their variety, because they tell us about where we come from and inform us about where we are going.

Like, I am sure, many other members, I use libraries considerably. The local libraries in Buckie and Fraserburgh play host to my surgeries there. While I am waiting, I can pop next door and see what is going on, read the newspapers that the libraries get or dip into books. Surprisingly, no one so far has mentioned the National Library of Scotland, which is absolutely—[Interruption.] I beg members’ pardon; it has been signalled that I was not listening correctly. I have my reading card for the National Library of Scotland with me. Disappointingly, I note that it is due for renewal on general election day, so I have a suspicion that I might not manage to get along that day to renew it.

In places such as the National Library of Scotland, there are unique opportunities to find out information that can be found nowhere else. I am interested in genealogy—both my own and other people’s. I know that my great-grandfather earned £70 a year in 1862 as a missionary for the Scottish Coast Mission. There seem to be only four pieces of paper left about that institution, and one of them—an annual report that shows how much my great-grandfather earned—is in the National Library of Scotland. Archives and libraries go hand in hand. I have a tiny bit of paper showing that my great-great-great-grandfather served in the Navy. I was able to go to the Public Record Office at Kew and get the ship’s logs from 1780, when he served on HMS Medway.

Let us have a wee think about the electronic world. The National Library of Scotland is doing a great deal to address the transient nature of so much of our electronic information. I invite Liam McArthur to think carefully about whether the modern electronic world is better than the paper world that we have been used to. Whenever I can, I sit in a bath with a cup of tea and a book in my hand. I can assure members that my wife sweats less when I drop a book in the bath, because a hairdryer is all that is needed to remedy that, but dropping an e-book in the bath is another matter altogether, not because of the electrical implications but because the e-book tends to suffer a bit.

I congratulate Colin Beattie on giving us the opportunity to think about literature and libraries. I hope that we will hear some interesting things from the cabinet secretary about the future security of our library services.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP