FOR more than a year now, my Saturday mornings have often been spent alongside campaigners at weekly read-ins outside libraries which remained closed following the end of lockdown restrictions.

Initially, that was in my Pollokshields ward, where, thanks to local pressure, a re-opening date was eventually secured. I’m delighted to see that library being well-used again.

Since then, I’ve been joining my wife and children at our local library, the Couper Institute in Cathcart, where Save the Couper campaigners are still awaiting answers. Two weeks ago, they asked people to add thoughts to a wish tree. Wishes included having somewhere to print, somewhere warm to take the kids, and (presumably from one of said children) to be able to play hopscotch on the rug. All great reminders of why people love their libraries and how much they miss them.

My own wish was influenced by the weather that particular Saturday, which saw one of the first rasping, cold winds of autumn. Thinking about chillier, wetter days to come, I wrote: “I wish we don’t have to be here all winter.”

So, what are the prospects of that wish being granted?

The answer hinges on whether Glasgow is successful in bidding for new £1.25 million funding announced last month by the First Minister. Information I’ve had this week from the Scottish Library and Information Council, which is administering the Public Libraries Covid Recovery Fund, makes me hopeful.

First, it has confirmed that its top priority will be to re-open libraries which remain closed. We’re told that Glasgow has applied for funds for all five of its unopened libraries.

Second, there is enough money in the pot. The full-year cost of running those five venues is £1.2m. We are now more than halfway through the financial year, so Glasgow would need under half of the total funding available.

Third, the funding requires commitments to keep library services open after the initial period, into next year and beyond.

Because Green councillors insisted on restoration of Glasgow Life’s funding post-Covid as a condition of passing the current council budget, we know cash to do that exists. If either SNP or Labour budgets had passed unamended, proposing unmitigated cuts of almost £5m, it wouldn’t be possible to make that guarantee.

Nevertheless, uncertainty and urgency remain. Should Glasgow’s bid succeed, the SNP administration must confirm re-opening dates immediately. I don’t want library campaigners to have to keep going a week longer than they need to, especially when temperatures start to plunge.

Longer-term, questions over the role of Glasgow Life and its arms-length funding model must be addressed. Pandemic or not, it should never be acceptable for universal public services like libraries to need cross-subsidy from concert ticket sales in order to simply open their doors. Nor should an organisation tasked with managing public assets be more accountable to the “great and the good” than the people it is meant to serve.

Scottish Greens will champion a positive future for Glasgow’s public libraries, one that protects and enhances these most precious of public facilities – and we’ll do everything in our power to make library users’ wishes come true.