A public information advert on TV caught my eye this week.

It was to do with the new regulations on smoke alarms that will be in place in Scotland from early next year.

A very important development that every householder should be aware of and one that hopefully will reduce he risk of fire and by raising the alarm sooner save lives.

As well as the importance of fire safety, what caught my eye was how to get more information.

You could go online at mygov.scot/firealarms

Or, as many people, particularly a lot of older people, do not have access to the internet, you were given the alternative “or pick up a leaflet at your local library”.

There is a fly in that particular ointment that readers of the Glasgow Times will be only too aware of.

There are a number of libraries in Glasgow that are shut and, despite claims they have not been closed, have no date for re-opening, not even a rough, ball park expectation.

Five in total, Whiteinch, Maryhill, GoMA, Barmulloch and the Coupar Institute are locked.

The fact the government is directing people to their local library highlights the importance of libraries within walking distance for people in communities.

They are more than places to borrow books and they have been for a long time.

Borrowing books in itself, is a good enough reason to prioritise efforts to keep them open, and get them re-opened, but they do so much more.

They are local hubs where people can get information on big national developments like the fire alarms safety changes but also where they can get information on local services, community groups and events.

Yes, the world is moving ever more online, but there is a danger in this that we leave a large section of the population behind.

It is not just the older citizens who are less likely to have internet access.

Many of them do, and embrace technology, but a large proportion do not and nor do they want to.

Many do not want to incur the extra cost of an internet connection and a device to access the internet with.

Cost is also a barrier to many others. A monthly broadband bill, added with the cost of the technology to use it, is outwith the means of many people in this city.

The levels of poverty in Glasgow is well documented and it is showing no signs of improving.

The cuts to Universal Credit that are looming, when the £20 uplift is removed, added to the rising prices in supermarkets and transport costs means people on the lowest income are going to be facing even more financial pressures than they already are.

It means they will be excluded even more from society and reliant on the good intentions of others through community groups and charities.

There are, all over Glasgow, numerous local organisations who are trying to help and who step in to plug the gap that government has left.

But how are people to know about these services?

Some may be prioritising spending on a mobile phone and internet as they see it is more of a necessity than a luxury but for some it will be a bill too far.

When the choice is data or dinner then human instinct tell you that food comes first.

Glasgow’s libraries have for a long time now provided access to the internet for people, in the way that in the past it was a place to read the newspapers for free.

When people are in need of information and need directing to local services that can help them with access to food or advice on benefits and debt, and the many other problems people are struggling with, a local library is important.

In this case it can be seen not just as a leisure facility but a lifeline service that every community should have.

The Scottish Government has announced a £1.2m fund to re-open libraries.

In Glasgow, the council could spent the whole lot as it is reported to cost at least that, if not more, to re-open those that remain closed.

Libraries can, and should, be a key part of the community based recovery from the pandemic and part of the Scottish Government’s response to policies like austerity and cuts to welfare it has limited control over.

The First Minister said recently that it can’t simply replace cuts made by the UK Government Westminster, like the £20 a week uplift. It is, she said, “unsustainable”.

But as part of the measures the Scottish Government can take to help people access alternative services, it can ensure local services are supported to enable and foster greater community resilience.

So, if the Scottish Government acknowledges the importance of local libraries as a community assets it needs to provide more money now, than the £1.2m, to re-open the libraries.

And then it needs to ensure that, in the future, councils are properly funded to ensure that they do not need to consider shutting them when finances are tight.

They are essential facilities for community empowerment, local learning and providing access to services.

We should take that as read.