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Library users give thumbs-up to town centre move plans

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Proposals to move Paisley’s lending library to a new home on the town’s High Street have been given a thumbs-up by users of the current facility.

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Council bosses are looking into moving the current lending library as part of a project running alongside the ambitious £56.7m masterplan to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based on the town’s unique textile heritage.

The plans would see the lending library moved to a new modern facility elsewhere in the town centre – although the current heritage library would stay where it is.

Last year councillors agreed to set aside £2.7m from existing resources for the proposed library move, as well as to run a consultation with current library users and town centre visitors to see what they thought about the plans.

That took place in January and the results – which will go before members of the council’s Leadership Board on 17 February – show residents broadly in favour;
– of 346 current users surveyed , 85% said they would visit the new library, with only 4% saying they were unlikely;
– of 129 lapsed and non-users, 47% said they were likely to visit it in the new location;
– 43% of current users were in favour of the move, with 32% unsure;
– 54% of lapsed or non-users were in favour, with 25% unsure;

The reasons given for a positive reaction included accessibility, location and the perception more people would use it.

Although the current lending library is well-used – attracting around 130,000 visits a year – it has limited space to accommodate increasing demand for computer access.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Paisley lending library is a popular facility – but what people expect from their local library is changing as we move into an increasingly digital world.

“The current building isn’t ideal from that point of view – but the planned changes as part of the museum redevelopment offers us a chance to create a new modern library with space for children’s activities and increased digital provision, and we are pleased the survey shows library users recognise this.

“Our preference would be for that facility to be on the High Street – by bringing a vacant unit back into use we will helping create much-needed footfall for surrounding traders.

“Together with the publicly-accessible museum store set to open in the basement of the former Littlewoods by 2017 and the longer-term plans to transform the museum by 2021, we are helping bringing people into the street, which will in turn make it more attractive to retailers to set up shop there.

“As the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 gathers pace, it is important we have cultural facilities which are fit for the 21st century – and should this library redevelopment go ahead, it would give us exactly that.”

When the Leadership Board meets on 17 February, councillors will be asked to approve the development of options for library relocation.