“It was the most magical place in the world when I was a youngster.” the words of comedian Susan Calman, tweeting about Knightswood Library a couple of years ago.

Those words have stuck with me, not simply because the library mentioned is at the heart of my own ward and I know how much it means to those communities I represent but because in that one sentence Susan perfectly summed up what libraries were and continue to be to so many.

I am sure a number of us will have fond memories of the routine school trip to the local library, and the big day where we finally received our library card. Our license to deepen our knowledge of issues; become inspired by stories and people from across the globe or much further afield as well as get caught up in our own imaginations. It truly was, as Susan says, a “magical place”.

And for many of our constituents, libraries don’t just provide that access to literature, music or movies but they act quite simply as a lifeline. Libraries play a significant role in helping bridge that digital divide that continues to be a major issue in our city, through providing a space for people to use IT to access benefits; apply for jobs; catch up with friends; or facilitating beginner computer classes for those who may still have some reservations about moving onto the World Wide Web. With more and more services moving online, the work they do is vital in ensuring everyone is able to access the resources they need and crucially, offer the support they need to access it.

Of course, our libraries also act as information hubs, where people pop in to find out more about what is going on in their area, phone numbers for other local services. And for some it’s their go to place to get the information needed to contact their local politicians. They are that trustworthy and reliable link for so many Glaswegians.

This pandemic has had a devastating impact on many of our communities. Whether it’s the extreme loneliness we have seen in those who do not have family living nearby, the number of our neighbours who struggle with access to food, or the decimation of third sector funding, which has forced community organisations to either cut their services drastically or close all together.

I was glad to see a number of my Council colleagues join their constituents outside Langside library, in a safe and socially distant manner, to make their voice heard and to tell their stories. Highlighting just how important our libraries are and ask that they are reopened at the earliest possible time, but the reality is if things carry on as they are - many of Glasgow Life’s venues may never re-open - we cannot let that happen.

Labour’s message is clear, we are asking all political parties to join us in fighting for a fair deal for our city from the Scottish Government which will enable these “magical” places to be saved and enjoyed for generations in our communities to come.